The Kenya Association of Travel Agents (KATA) held a successful webinar with travel agents in Kenya and Rwanda on Thursday last week following a partnership agreement signed in January 2021 with the Rwanda Development Board (RDB), East African Tourism Platform (EATP) and Rwanda Chamber of Tourism (RCT) to promote business and leisure travel in the East African Region.
The webinar was aimed at sensitizing travel agents on destination Rwanda and promotion of awareness of the #VisitRwanda campaign. The webinar highlighted the various opportunities available in Rwanda for business, leisure and MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions) travel.
As EAC countries begin to resume normalcy, there is need for travel agents to rebuild their businesses that have been hit hard by COVID-19, and travel within the region is a critical starting point.
Mr. Mohamed Wanyoike, the chairperson for the Kenya Association of Travel Agents and a passionate proponent of intra-regional travel, said that the East African market is critical to Kenyan travel agents’ rebuilding process. In this context, he urged Kenyan travel agents to establish B2B linkages with their Rwandan counterparts and come up with creative travel packages that will spur regional travel.
“I encourage you to continue to focus on the opportunities in the Rwandan market, and encourage travellers to venture out to spectacular regional destinations in Rwanda,” he said.
He also emphasized that travellers in the Post Covid-19 era will be keen on security, wellness, and comfort and said that the three aspects that must be maintained in order to revive the spirit of travel in a post-COVID-19 situation. “These aspects will be a benchmark to gain the confidence of the domestic and regional traveller in order to revitalize travel,” stated Mr Wanyoike.
He urged all the regional stakeholders, business travel actors, as well as the travel industry to also be cognizant of the travel health protocols both in Kenya and Rwanda and the entire EAC, as strict adherence will be key restarting the travel industry.
Mr Wanyoike’s sentiments mirror the findings of the Travellers Readiness to Travel Post Covid-19 Survey that was conducted by KATA in partnership with the Global Tourism Resilience and Crisis Management Centre. The survey, that sought to gather insights on the travel habits of travelers, and how travel has been impacted by Covid-19, showed that 65 percent of travellers are willing and ready to start domestic travel with 34 percent willing to travel regionally.
This means that the efforts of KATA and its partners in boosting regional travel is a realistic expectation of the travel trend in the near future. KATA has been keen on creating partnerships that will enable her members establish business linkages and aid in the resumption of travel.
Following the successful webinar, KATA and her partners will be hosting subsequent B2B engagement sessions with travel agents from both countries that will go a long way in deepening business engagements among the agents. The Association will later conduct familiarization trips for her members to Rwanda to facilitate the much-needed destination knowledge and experience.
Robert Okumu, Country Manager RwandAir said that the airline will be sponsoring familiarisation trips into Rwanda for the travel agents in Kenya with a view of giving them an opportunity to experience the Business and Leisure travel products in Rwanda. He also said that they will be offering and competitive holiday packages and experience ahead of Easter Holidays for the Kenyan public to visit and explore the beauty, serenity and tranquility of Rwandan destinations.