Kenya is bidding to host the 24th edition of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) General Assembly in 2021 when the congregation of the UNWTO members meets for its bi-annual, 23rd session this week in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Through the Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife, Kenya will be looking at leveraging its vast past experience in hosting top global events to make a case for the event to be hosted here in 2021.
The move is in line with the ministry’s long-term strategy to diversify the tourism product to attract more tourists into the country and consequently enhance the revenue stream.
Commenting on Kenya’s bid for the hosting rights of the event, Tourism and Wildlife Cabinet Secretary (CS), Najib Balala said that the country will present a strong case for why Kenya should be the first East African country to host the event, adding that it will greatly raise Kenya’s profile.
“We are going to make a solid case for Kenya to host the 24th UNWTO General Assembly meeting in 2021 as the first East African country to do so. We will build on the success of recently hosted high level global events in Kenya as a strong reason why Kenya should be voted as hosts for the upcoming meeting and hope to secure the victory,” he said.
“A win to host the event will greatly enhance Kenya’s profile not only as the preferred travel destination in Africa, but also the choice destination for Meetings and Exhibitions; which is the next frontier of tourism that we want to create awareness of in addition to the traditional beach and safari proposition,” said Balala.
On average, over 1,000 delegates from over 130 member countries of the UNWTO, attend the five-day bi-annual meeting, translating into millions of dollars in foreign revenue for host countries over the duration of the stay.
Kenya will be making the bid on the back of other global events that have been in the country which include the 2015 Global Entrepreneurship Summit that was attended by former United States President, Barack Obama; the 10th World Trade Organisation Ministerial Conference; the 6th Tokyo International Conference on African Development; and, more recently, the Sustainable Blue Economy Conference and the 4th Session of the UN Environment Assembly.
Kenya will be battling out for the rights to host the meeting against the Philippines and Morocco when tourism Ministers from UNWTO member states vote at the meeting in Russia which will be held this week from September 9 to 13.
Kenya currently boasts of accolades from the World Tourism Awards (2019WTA – Africa) that endorsed the biggest conference facility, the Kenyatta International Convention Centre as a leading conference facility. KICC will play host to the event should the destination clinch this bid.
A win for Kenya would see participants at the next UNWTO meeting have the singular opportunity of being in a city that boasts of having the only National Park in the world; meaning they would get an opportunity of experience Kenya’s award-winning Safari adventures as they take part in the meeting. Kenya is home to the UNEP Headquarter and other UN body offices.
By Joseph Ng’ang’a