Travel agents express mixed reaction to announcement of Kenya- Jamaica direct flights.

The announcement by government of plans to launch direct flights between Kenya and Jamaica has been received with mixed reaction by travel agents.

This announcement was made following bilateral talks held between President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Jamaican counterpart during his three-day state visit to Jamaica this week. President Kenyatta said this would deepen commercial ties as well as strengthen partnership between the two countries.

“This move by the two Governments is timely as passengers will be able to travel well without the issue of Transit Visa in the USA. It will ease the many connections passengers have to endure to reach the Caribbean Island,” said Ms Lilian Mutumira from Africa Bliss Travel Ltd.

Good Hope Travel Managing Director Patrick Ngotho also lauded the move citing that travel agents will now be able to capitalize on the opportunity since Jamaica is a good holiday destination.

 “Jamaica has always been a mystical place, I personally would love to go on holiday to Jamaica and look forward to adding this as a destination once the flights open up the two countries,” says Patrick Maina from Deans Travel Centre.

Mr Peter Bogecho from Zakale Expeditions said that the direct flights will go a long way in helping both markets through tourism and accessibility with reduced travel hassles.

However, the news was not welcomed by all as some travel agents felt that the idea is not viable since Jamaica is an expensive destination.

Mr Jayant Acharya of Acharya Travels observed that this was not a feasible move as it raises questions on sustainability of Jamaica-Kenya market. He further expressed doubt that the cost of air ticket and flying time would be compatible to the Kenya Airways product range.

Ms Julie Dabaly of Carlson Wagonlit Travel pointed out that Kenya’s national carrier Kenya Airways has too many problems that will not be resolved by flying to Jamaica.

“Kenya Airways should first get out of the red before adding to such a far-away destination. Jamaica is a beautiful destination but expensive,” she added.

By Kenya Association of Travel Agents

NDC, NEWGEN ISS top discussions at KATA industry meeting

Kenya Association of Travel Agents (KATA) on Friday hosted a breakfast meeting for its members at the Trademark Hotel in Village Market Nairobi that was sponsored by Amadeus.

Top on the agenda at the meeting was IATA’s New Distribution Capability (NDC) and the New Generation IATA Settlement Scheme NEWGEN ISS that is set to be introduced in Kenya this year.  KATA members got to interact with both organisations while learning about the new trends in the travel market today.

In his opening remarks, KATA Chairman Mr. Mohammed Wanyoike reminded members that Kenya is expected to migrate to the New Generation of IATA Settlement Systems in October this year.

The program, that has already been rolled out in several countries in the world including neighbouring Uganda and Tanzania was launched by IATA to deliver faster, safer and more cost effective and relevant financial settlement services and solutions to airlines and travel agents that rely on the IATA Settlement Systems (ISS).

“We need to prepare adequately for this transition in order to make the migration seamless. That is why KATA CEO Mr Nicanor Sabula and I will travel to learn more from Nigeria, who are already on NewGen ISS. We hope to bring back valuable lessons from this trip,” the Board Chairman said.

The Chairman further notified members of the Annual KATA Convention to be held in September this year.

He welcomed the members and urged them to turn up for the two-day event which will have a lot of learning forums.

Also speaking during the event was Amadeus Managing Director, East Africa Mr Mathieu Dutrisac who took the KATA members through a session on New Distribution Capability Program (NDC).

NDC was launched by IATA as a communication protocol for the travel industry. NDC is a travel industry- supported program that enhances the capability of communications between airlines and agents.

Mr Dutrisac noted that a lot has to be done to realise the full potential of NDC but assured the travel agents that the program will drive the travel industry forward.

KATA CEO Mr Sabula unpacked NewGen ISS for the travel agents explaining the process in full detail.

He informed the members of the forthcoming NewGen ISS training that is scheduled to be held on July 29 jointly with IATA and urged all members to attend.

Lion King Film Premiere, Celebrating the Magical Kenya

The Kenya Tourism Board on Wednesday evening treated select Kenyans to the very first premiere of the Lion King in Africa at the Century IMAX Cinema at Garden City in Nairobi.

The event that was preceded by a cocktail was attended by dignitaries in the public and private sector including the Cabinet Secretary for Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) Mr Joe Mucheru, Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism Mr Joe Okudo, Kenya Tourism Board Chairman Mr Jimi Kariuki and the CEO of the Kenya Tourism Board Ms Betty Radier.

Mr Mucheru said that the Kenyan government is committed towards supporting the movie industry. With proper support, he said, Kenya can have its own movies that can be aired worldwide.

Also speaking during the event, Mr Kariuki emphasised on the need to position Kenya as the hub of tourism in the region.

The movie, he added, showcased Kenya’s beauty as a tourist site and also as a filming destination.

“KTB will work closely with the Disney Film Crew to support them in identifying the various scenes that inspired the movie. The movie has already been aired to audiences in France, US and the UK recently and is airing for the first time in Africa today. This will go a long way in raising the profile as well as amplifying the brand equity of Kenya,” he said.

Kenyans online got excited on seeing the Brand Kenya logo on ‘The Lion King’ backdrop banner during the London premiere of the film lauding the effort to place Kenya on the global map.

According to the National Geographic, the much-anticipated film was inspired by the Hell’s Gate National Park in the Great Rift Valley, Naivasha, Kenya which is known for its scenic sights, wildlife, rock climbing, cycling and the home of the real ‘Pride Rock’ in the film.

The movie officially premieres in the country on July 19.

Kenya airways engages Mombasa travel agents during industry meeting

The Kenya Association of Travel Agents (KATA) on Thursday afternoon held a meeting with the Mombasa Travel Agents, an event that was sponsored by Kenya Airways.

The meeting that was largely attended by registered members of KATA was held to discuss various issues affecting the travel industry. The meeting was then followed by an Iftar Dinner held at the Shehnai Restaurant in Mombasa Town.

Speaking during the event, KATA Chairman Mr. Mohammed Wanyoike updated the members on the ongoing process on the transition to New Generation of IATA Settlement Systems better known as NewGen ISS.

NewGen ISS is a program launched by IATA to deliver faster and effective financial settlement services to airlines and travel agents that rely on the IATA Settlement Systems (ISS).

He pointed out that Kenya is expected to transition in the fourth quarter of the year and would take lessons from countries who are ahead with the process.

“We will engage with colleagues in Africa who are already using NewGen ISS so as to understand the system better. Countries such as Uganda, Tanzania, Mauritius and Rwanda are already using the system,” he said.

Being a new process, he said, challenges are to be expected during the transition. He however assured that trainings on the process have been conducted adding that more trainings will follow.

Kenya Airways Area Manager Ms. Rose Kiseli addressed the KATA agents and assured them of continued partnership and collaboration.

She also assured that the airliner was improving its services including instant feedback where customers can give real time feedback inflight.

KATA set to host its 2019 Annual Convention in September

The Kenya Association of Travel Agents (KATA) has given the official announcement of the KATA Annual Convention set to take place on 27th – 28th September 2019 at the Enashipai Resort and SPA in Naivasha.

The association anticipates bigger and better 2nd convention themed, “Travel in Transition: Re-imagining Kenya’s Future Travel industry”.

The KATA annual Convention is a forum where the travel industry in Kenya convenes for two days of knowledge, inspiration and networking. It is where travel professionals learn how to stay a step ahead and develop and grow their businesses through expert educational sessions. With constant changes in the industry coupled with the potential volatility of today’s world, we are bringing together travel’s most influential executives to discuss the industry’s pressing questions.

Last year, KATA hosted a well-attended convention at the same venue with over 100 owners, directors, CEOs and senior management of travel agencies drawn from KATA membership. The event also attracted participation from the travel industry suppliers and stakeholders.

The KATA Convention is a “Must Attend” for every travel industry professional!  In an interview with the Weekly Travel News, the KATA Advocacy and Industry Relations Manager Ms. Caroline Rwenji mentioned thst the association has lined up eminent speakers both local and international who will grace the convention.

KATA officials set to visit Nigeria on NewGen ISS familiarisation tour

The Kenya Association of Travel Agents (KATA) will this week be sending its officials to the National Association of Nigerian Travel Agents (NANTA) on a familiarisation tour of the operations of the Nigerian travel.

The officials Chief Executive Officer Mr Nicanor Sabula and Hon. Treasurer Dr Joseph Kithitu are expected to meet with the executive members of NANTA and also visit a few travel agents to understand the impact of their migration to the New IATA settlement System (NEWGEN). They are also expected to discuss future opportunities for collaboration between the two Associations.

Kenya will on October 16, 2019 migrate from Resolution 818g to the NewGen ISS Passenger Sales Agency Rules under Resolution 812. The NewGen Programme will create more flexible, secure and customer centric BSP for both travel agents and airlines.

The Kenya Association of Travel Agents (KATA) has been at the forefront in informing and educating its members on the new system.

KATA has this year reached out through industry meetings in various parts of the country in a bid to have the members informed on the transition.

The program has already been rolled out in several countries in the world including neighbouring Uganda and Tanzania and is expected to deliver faster, safer and more cost effective and relevant financial settlement services and solutions to airlines and travel agents that rely on the IATA Settlement Systems (ISS).

KATA hosts Mombasa travel agents

The Kenya Association of Travel Agents (KATA) on Thursday morning hosted the Mombasa Industry meeting sponsored by Amadeus.

After welcoming remarks from KATA Board Director and Coast Liaison Ms. Rashida Pereira, the members were taken through crucial changes in the travel trade business affecting how business runs.

It was noted that the travel industry is undergoing change with the introduction of new initiatives that change the way business is done.

Amadeus Sales Manager Mr David Chipinde took the Mombasa travel agents through NDC (New Distribution Capability), a travel industry-supported program (NDC Program) which enhances the capability of communications between airlines and travel agents.

Mr Chipinde explained that NDC is the new distribution system that has been adopted by airlines urging that it was imperative that travel agents understand the process.

On the other hand, KATA Chief Executive Nicanor Sabula explained to the Mombasa team on the New Generation IATA Settlement System (New Gen ISS). Kenya is expected to transition to the new system in October 2019.

NewGen ISS is a program launched by International Air Transport Association (IATA) to offer a cost-effective financial settlement services and solutions to airlines and travel agents.

Mr Sabula informed the KATA members on how the new business model which facilitates the distribution and settlement of funds between travel agents and airlines would work and the requirements.

He assured the Mombasa agents that a team would visit countries that have already made the transition in order to learn from them.

“It is a crucial year for us in the industry as there are a number of changes happening. Some of them we have talked about so as to see how we prepare ourselves as they will impact our business,” Mr Sabula said.

Trainings, he said, are also important in order to ensure that all agents understand the system before October.

KATA hosts Industry meeting in partnership with KCB, UnionPay International

According to statistics from the China National Tourism Administration, Chinese tourists travelled overseas on 131 million occasions in 2017, an increase of 7.0% from the previous year. Data from the International Association of Tour Managers shows that overseas travel spending by Chinese tourists reached USD 261.1 billion in 2016, an increase of 4.5% year-on-year, and ranking first worldwide.

In line with this, Kenya Association of Travel Agents (KATA) recently hosted an industry meeting for her members in partnership with KCB & UnionPay International to explore “Opportunities in China for Travel Agents”.

UnionPay International is a global payment system accepted in 50 African countries and in more than 170 countries and regions worldwide. It is the world’s biggest card network, with 7 billion debit and credit cards in circulation. About 100 million UnionPay cards have been issued and the card is accepted by over 51 million merchants and 2.57 million ATMs in China, and 23 million merchants and 1.64 million ATMs outside mainland China

“We are the fastest growing payment brand in the world, particularly in Kenya we are going to be a brand that is more and more visible to the local market” says Mark Mbugua, Marketing Manager – UnionPay International Africa Branch during the KATA industry meeting.

As far as Africa is concerned UnionPay International cards are accepted in almost every country, therefore any UnionPay cardholder travelling across the continent can use the card at point of sale, ATM and ecommerce.

Chinese outbound market is very important, cash is not the easiest thing to travel with and having security to know that they can use their cards for purchase and withdrawal makes it easier for the Chinese and ultimately they end up spending more.

In Kenya, Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) is the first bank to be issuing UnionPay card and it offers significant advantages for Kenyans traveling to China. For travel agents, they stand to benefit a great deal since with 100% ATM and POS acceptance in China, customers can transact easily in China and beyond. Offering China and Asia bound customers the UnionPay cards is a great value-addition as they will not need to worry about carrying cash.

KATA Hosts Google Digital Skills Training for Travel Agents

Kenya Association of Travel Agents has announced that they will be partnering with Google Kenya to hold Digital Skills training for her members throughout the year. The training follows a successful pilot held last year where more than 70 travel agents received training from google appointed trainers.

This week, KATA hosted the google digital skills training session at the KATA Boardroom which is the first of a series of trainings that will be ongoing throughout the year.

“Last year we began a partnership with Google to equip all our members with essential digital skills.” Stated Nicanor Sabula, CEO at KATA during the first session of the digital skills training.

In Kenya, 86% of the population are internet users according to key digital statistical indicators by google as at January 2018 while globally there is a 56% penetration of internet users.

The main objective of this partnership and training is because we are living in a digital world and the general feeling that the travel industry was disrupted in terms of the digital space, therefore if we don’t catch up we’ll be left behind.” In an interview with Weekly Travel News, Mr. Sabula mention that, ““There is a lot of competition with OTAs; they are not eating our lunch, we are just late to the table.”

During the training KATA members were given detailed highlights on why web matters, how to grow business online, online safety and many more including Google My Business Workshop.

This training is in line with KATA’s strategic plan of continuously building members’ professional capacity in order to compete in a changing business environment.

“I am happy that google has agreed to walk with us in this journey throughout the year.” Said, Mr. Nicanor Sabula.

KATA Hosts Forum for Eldoret and Kisumu Travel Agents

The Kenya Association of Travel Agents (KATA) this week hosted forums for the Eldoret and Kisumu Travel Agents sponsored by Travelport.

Travel agents from the two towns were taken through the trends and changes in the travel trade industry.

KATA Secretary and board director Mr Shilen Jobanputra emphasised on the need to stay up to date as the industry is progressive.

“KATA continues to represent the interest of travel agents. Currently our industry is undergoing phenomenal changes and it has really evolved over the years. It is important as stakeholders and players that we are one step ahead and conscious of what is happening around us within the travel industry,” stated Mr. Jobanputra, who also serves as the Chairperson of the Membership Committee.

Speaking during the event, KATA CEO Mr Nicanor Sabula took agents through a presentation on the future of the travel industry including the forthcoming NewGen ISS and what agents need to know.

Travelport director Ms. Nita Nagi pointed out the evolution of technology over the years noting that the industry has become paperless.

“Now technology has changed and ticketing is done paperless, as compared to the beginning of travel where tickets were issued handwritten. That’s why Travelport is here to assist you embrace change. We all need to embrace change and move with the world,” she addressed the travel agents.

Travelport Sales Manager Ms Martha Wambui assured the travel agents of support in helping them grow and sustain the businesses.

Mr Isaac Mukuru, also from Travelport urged travel agents to become adaptive to technology and change.