ITB Asia News 2019 Day 3 Edition



18 OCTOBER 2019














Tim Hentschel

Group CEO, and

I think there will be much more

movement towards Singapore

when it comes to MICE.

See page 9



Bernadette Romulo-Puyat

Tourism Minister, Philippines

We are creating a culture of

Sustainable Tourism by

prioritizing the enforcement of

environmental laws in major

tourist destinations. See page 11



ITB ASIA 2019:

Travel business central

More than just a showcase and conference,

it’s where business is done… big business



For three days, Singapore becomes the world

business capital of tourism, as a plethora of

deals are done directly on the show floor,

as well as important planning and sourcing

for the coming season. This year’s ITB Asia

has seen a 35% increase in approved buyers.

Buyers have come from across the world

but specifically from high-growth markets

such as Southeast Asia, China and India. “As

the leading travel trade show, we want to

provide a dynamic and diverse platform for

our stakeholders to forge strong business

relationships,” said Katrina Leung, Managing

Director of Messe Berlin (Singapore), the

organiser of ITB Asia. “We are pleased to

have attracted a greater number of buyers

to this year’s show, specifically from markets

which have shown to have huge growth

potential in travel and tourism. By working

closely with our exhibitors and through the

new Elite Partner Programme, we hope to

spur more business opportunities for both


Speaking of partnerships, a highly important

and fruitful relationship continues between

ITB Asia and the Marina Bay Sands (see

our exclusive interview with Mike Lee,

Vice President of Sales, Marina Bay Sands,

page 10).

Mike Lee

Vice President of Sales, Marina Bay Sands

Jimi Kariuki

Chairman, Kenya Tourism Board

Our government sees tourism as

a priority as it has a very positive

impact on our economy. See page 14

With 67 million

international arrivals,

Africa experienced a 7%

increase in international

arrivals in 2018 compared

to 2017. The growth was

driven by good results

for Tunisia, Morocco and

Kenya. For the Middle East,

growth in foreign arrivals

reached 4% while the region

generated 4% of all arrivals

globally. While Africa only

represents 5% of market

share in terms of arrivals,

it is one of the continents

with the strongest growth

dynamics. Read more, from

page 13.



Richard Barnes


A jovial MOU signing

by Messe Berlin CEO,

Dr Christian Göke (left)

and Keith Tan (right),

Chief Executive, Singapore

Tourism Board



at your service

The news this week that Messe

Berlin (Singapore) is launching

a new – dedicated – travel

technology show for 2020

comes as no surprise given the

huge, and ever-growing interest

in travel related technologies.

In keynotes on day one of

the show, and

IBM addressed the industry’s

common challenges such as

readying businesses for their

next wave of growth; rethinking

and reinventing distribution

strategies; and how the travel

industry can capitalise on the

digital revolution to succeed.

Yesterday, attendees were able

to hear from Agoda, Expedia,

Google, TripAdvisor and Wego,

who discussed actions to adapt

to the ever-evolving market.

Again today,, OYO

China and Tujia are leading the

conversation on maximising

opportunities to meet the needs

of a new generation of Chinese


Destination Marketing is

also looking more and more

towards digital solutions, with

this week’s tracks including the

likes of iVenture Card, Rezgo,

TourRadar and Trip Ninja. They

have been discussing topics

ranging from multi-city travel,

what experiences one can learn

from hotel distribution and how

to get the most for brands via

online travel agencies.

Looking ahead to next year, as

a complement to the existing

ITB Asia and MICE Show Asia,

Travel Tech Asia in 2020 will

be part of Asia Pacific’s largest

travel trade show dedicated to

travel technology. New buyers

in charge of purchasing travel

technology will be introduced to

the latest innovations, emerging

trends, leading industry brands

and innovative start-ups that are

gathered at one place to create

new possibilities of travel.


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Memorandum of

Understanding signed

for three years between

Singapore and Messe


With organisers announcing a record number of over 1,300

exhibitors and more than 1,250 buyers at this year’s ITB Asia

show, a new memorandum of understanding has been signed

this week between the show organisers and the Singapore


The ceremony took place on

Wednesday, between Messe

Berlin CEO, Dr Christian Göke

and Keith Tan, Chief Executive,

Singapore Tourism Board. The

MOU paves the way for an even

more solid relationship between

the show organisers and the local

authorities, who have shown

continued support for ITB Asia

since its inception.

This year’s show has seen a

major evolution over the previous

edition. Over the past two days,

along with today, organisations

from across the travel industry

are gathering to establish highquality

contacts and conduct

business. Indeed, to meet demand,

Asia’s leading travel trade show

this year expanded to two floors,

introducing a dedicated “MICE

Show Asia 2019”.

Commenting on this year’s show,

Katrina Leung, Managing Director

of Messe Berlin (Singapore), ITB

Asia’s organiser, said, “ITB Asia

continues to maintain its position

as the leading travel trade show

in the region. Working in close

collaboration with international

exhibitors, travel companies and

international buyers from across

the MICE, leisure and corporate

travel markets, we look forward

to unveiling this year’s engaging

and exciting programmes that will

benefit all. With the expansion

of the show and the launch of

MICE Show Asia, we’re delighted

to welcome our visitors to this

2019’s edition.”

Now in its twelfth year, ITB Asia has

continued to enjoy support from

destinations and businesses from

across the world. Emphasising the

global reach of ITB Asia, this year’s

show has attracted ever-widening

international interest and

participation. Over 110 National

Tourism Organisations (NTO) and

Regional Tourism Organisations

(RTO) are exhibiting this year,

including first-time appearances

for NTOs from Armenia, Czech

Republic, Malta, Russia and

the Balkan States – Macedonia,

Montenegro and Serbia, and

RTOs from Busan, Frankfurt, Los

Angeles and more.

In addition, with the fastgrowing

demands of the MICE

and corporate travel sectors,

ITB Asia has this year launched

the inaugural MICE Show Asia, a

MICE-dedicated show to which

all ITB Asia attendees have full


ITB ASIA NEWS • Friday 18 October 2019







Getting connected at KOMA

The 2019 Marina Bay Sands networking night was held

on Wednesday evening at Singapore’s striking new KOMA

restaurant – a new concept from TAO Group. Buyers from

around the world attending ITB Asia, some for the first time,

were treated to an extensive spread of sushi and sashimi,

along with succulent Wagyu beef. We asked just some of the

guests how they felt about the evening – and the ITB Asia

show at large…

“We are looking after VIP travelling

and this is my second time to ITB

Asia Singapore. My first visit last

year translated into an increase

of 30% of my business and the

opportunity to enjoy the city.” -

Maxim Chepukhalin, Fonder LAD

concept Bureau

“It’s very busy… a great opportunity

to connect with our key partners

globally. This is my first time here,

and for my colleague Jon as well.

As House of Travel is the largest

solely New Zealand owned travel

company, it is important for us

to network.” – Maria Stephens –

Pricing and Distribution Manager,

House of Travel, New Zealand

– accompanied by Jon Gwin –

Product Manager Asia.

“This is my sixth time at ITB Asia.

This year there is a new MICE

segment, which is useful. We do

a lot of high-end corporate travel.

It’s the first time the evening

event has taken place here at

the KOMA, and I think it’s a very

nice choice. Especially as I love

the Japanese food.” - Joseph Sze

– Project Director – TravelKreator

– a brand owned by Siam Express

Pte Ltd, Singapore.

“It’s my first time at ITB Asia.

First impressions are excellent.

We’re here looking for new

venues, and I have seen some

fabulous venues. I’m so excited.

This evening event is great for

networking. I have met people

here that I wouldn’t normally

meet. I’ve been able to exchange

ideas, I’ve made new friends. And

this is a fabulous restaurant.”

- Virginia McCarthy – Business

Development Manager – CVBS,

Sydney, Australia.

“This is my first time to ITB Asia

and I find it fairly well managed.

I had a full schedule with 10

appointments, principally to

evaluate and meet hotels in

Vietnam and Cambodia. But I also

looked for European products”. -

Alicia Coote - Evergreen Cruises

and Tours, Sydney

Mike Lee, Vice President of Sales,

Marina Bay Sands

(l. to r.) – Sergey Kovalskiy –

Travel Manager – LAD, ITB Asia

News journalist Luc Citrinot,

Maxim Chepukhalin, Founder

LAD concept bureau

ITB ASIA NEWS • Friday 18 October 2019







Tim Hentschel

Group CEO,


Growing the online group travel

booking market in Asia

Exclusive trade interview: Tim Hentschel, CEO,

and is the world’s largest provider of online group

hotel bookings and event management services. Meanwhile secures hotel accommodations, meeting space,

conference venues, and hospitality services – and negotiates

the most favourable terms possible. In the last month, group

CEO Tim Hentschel has moved from the UK to Singapore. We

asked him why.

We launched our Asia headquarter

office in Hong Kong about four

years ago. Then around a year ago,

we decided to expand more into

this market, and started to look at

some new cities. Finally we took

the decision that Singapore was

the best spot. We are happy to be

in a place where things are very

stable. We are also happy to be in an

area which is also growing rapidly.

Singapore just took the number

one award for the most businessfriendly

environment, and they

overtook the US this year in that

field. They also took the number

two spot among the top financial

markets. It’s exciting to be here

while Singapore is experiencing

such great growth.

How are your companies

performing and what are the

sweet spots at the moment?

We are lucky to be in online group

travel where we have a good mix

of leisure group as opposed to

corporate group, because corporate

group has taken a considerable

hit in the last year. When markets

flatten out, the first thing CFOs do is

to cut their corporate group spend.

But luckily for us, we have a strong

leisure group market too, and we

also have a product that tends to

see more growth during recessions,

because more people are looking

to save money. Our leads are up

20% year-over-year right now, and

we have signed some really good

deals. We acquired VenueExplorer. – a local Singapore startup

that specialises in meetings

and events. We just did a deal

with One Championship. There’s

a seven-figure sponsorship deal,

and it includes a lot of exposure in

the Asian market for what we do.

That is unique, as there is no other

online travel company in Asia that

specialises in group bookings that

has a global reach and the kind of

traffic and history we do. We have

been seeing pick-up in Europe ever

since Bas Lemmens, the co-founder

of became the CEO

of, our other brand

headquartered out of Amsterdam

now. And then of course North

America continues to be our

strongest market, where 80% of our

revenues are still located.

Singapore itself seems to be

growing as a MICE destination.

What are your thoughts on that?

Yes, they are building a fourth tower

at the Marina Bay Sands and are

building a huge indoor stadium as

well. They are anticipating bigger


ARE UP 20%






events coming down here, and I

know the Hong Kong market has

become tough – especially with

the transport issues there. I think

there will be much more movement

towards Singapore when it comes

to MICE.

You are an adept of ITB shows

around the world. What are your

thoughts on ITB Asia?

We are in talks to grow our

relationship further with the

organisers of ITB Asia. As you know,

we organise a number of award

events around the globe – paying

tribute to the top companies who

work to facilitate the life of those

working in the MICE sector. We

have the World Hospitality Awards

that will be happening alongside

Art Basel in South Beach. In Berlin,

we do the European Group Travel

Awards. To complement our fastest

growing market, which is Asia,

we definitely want to organise

something in Singapore around

ITB Asia. And as we get closer to

the next show, we will figure out

what that looks like. It will be big.

We will want to get big celebrities

and entertainment to help highlight

everything our industry does, and

obviously help raise money for


ITB ASIA NEWS • Friday 18 October 2019





TOWER; A 15,000-SEAT




Mike Lee

Vice President of Sales, Marina Bay Sands

ITB Asia has a fruitful ongoing relationship with the Marina Bay

Sands in Singapore. We asked Mike Lee, Vice President of Sales,

Marina Bay Sands what the main aspects are from his side that

add value to the show.

ITB Asia is a valued partner

of Marina Bay Sands, with a

collaborative partnership between

both teams that has enabled us

to continue providing customised

solutions for each edition of ITB

Asia that meet both the organiser’s

and delegates’ objectives. The

versatility of our spaces at the

Sands Expo and Convention Centre

provides ITB Asia with the flexibility

to reconfigure the show floor each

year to meet the expanding needs

of the show. The alternative unique

venues that we offer on the property

also provide delegates and trade

visitors with the intimate spaces

to connect and facilitate peer-topeer

engagements. We are deeply

committed to elevating the show

experience for the next three years

and providing an unforgettable

experience for our guests.

What’s new this year and heading

into the near future?

In 2019, we welcomed three

new lifestyle and entertainment


and KOMA as part of our ongoing

collaboration with TAO Group.

Beyond the interesting F&B

openings this year, we are proud

to be recognised for our business

excellence and innovative use of

technology to boost productivity

and improve guest experiences. The

integrated resort (Hotel, MICE, F&B)

was recently conferred the 2019

Singapore Quality Award (SQA)

and we are also the first hospitality

business to be awarded the SQA

after more than 10 years. Marina Bay

Sands will be celebrating its 10th

year anniversary in 2020. Early next

year, we will welcome Hong Kong’s

multi-award winning contemporary

Chinese restaurant, Mott 32 to

Marina Bay Sands. In addition,

Michelin-starred Waku Ghin is

currently undergoing extensive

renovations, with an opening slated

for early 2020. Looking ahead into

the next few years, visitors can look

forward to the addition of an allsuite

fourth hotel tower; a 15,000-

seat entertainment arena as well

as additional MICE space and

capabilities. The new arena will

serve a dual purpose. With its size

and amenities, it is also suitable

for MICE groups to host big plenary

sessions and large conference

groups. More details will be shared

in due course.

Towards the future,


Exclusive interview: Mike Lee, Vice President of Sales,

Marina Bay Sands, Singapore

How important is sustainability as

part of your message, and what is

being done to move even further in

this direction?

Marina Bay Sands has become

well known for integrating

sustainability into our operations.

Every decision we make is guided

and fully supported by our global

sustainability strategy, Sands

ECO360. It is designed to help us

minimise our environmental impact

as an integrated resort. Marina

Bay Sands is also committed

to responsible sourcing in our

purchase of materials ranging

from fish and seafood, to paper

products. The company is guided

by a sustainable purchasing policy

which encourages vendors to

provide solutions, materials, and

goods that are environmentallyfriendly.

The company-wide emphasis on

making our operations sustainable

has won us many accolades in the

industry. In fact, Sands Expo and

Convention Centre achieved the

LEED (Leadership in Energy and

Environmental Design) Platinum,

a global system of sustainability

recognition in June this year. This

makes us the first MICE venue in Asia

Pacific to attain this certification. It

tells industry players and our clients

that any event they host at the

Sands Expo and Convention Centre

is highly sustainable. Ultimately,

it gives clients confidence in our

ability to curate events that are

environmentally-friendly and

memorable to begin with.

Continuous education and

engagement is important when it

comes to sustainability. Through

our Sands ECO360 green meetings

programme, we not only provide

Green Meeting Advisory Services,

but the team also works closely

with meeting planners to customise

their sustainable events. Clients can

choose from the Harvest Menu or

Healthier Menu options, certified by

Singapore Health Promotion Board,

a government body, which offer

fresh and high-quality ingredients

that are locally and regionally

sourced and prepared through

healthier cooking methods

ITB ASIA NEWS • Friday 18 October 2019




Visit Finland at ITB Asia 2019 - (left to right) Hanna Muoniovaara, Sirpa Lindberg and Sari Hey

A pledge for


in Finland

To help the tourism industry in Finland to adopt

sustainable practices, Visit Finland is presenting

for the first time at ITB Asia the Sustainable

Travel Finland programme, designed for tourism

companies and destinations in Finland.

During the Autumn 2018,

Visit Finland carried out a

survey among tourism actors

in the country. The survey

revealed that 83% of the

respondents supported the

idea of a national sustainable

tourism programme. The

pledge for a sustainable

travel label was born.

Finland feels particularly

vulnerable to climate

change. The most sensitive

to climate change are many

of Finland’s outdoor travel

products that depend on

climate. Mitigation requires

proactive tourism planning

and management at

national and regional level.

Visit Finland feels then the

necessity to act immediately.

The idea of ​Sustainable

Travel Finland programme

is to provide companies

and destinations with a

sustainable development

path; a concrete toolkit for

sustainable tourism that

makes it easier to adopt

sustainable practices and

choices in the everyday


The “Sustainable Travel

Finland” label will make

it easier for travel trade

and travellers to recognise

a tourism company and

destination that takes

sustainability seriously.

The label is only awarded

for those companies and

destinations that have

undergone the entire

Sustainable Travel Finland

programme and fulfilled the

criteria. The programme

includes regular auditing and

renewal of the label.

Companies and destinations

that undergo the entire

programme are recognised

with the Sustainable Travel

Finland label and will have

access to a continuous

development model,

the latest information

on sustainable tourism

development, and marketing

support and visibility on visit

Finland channels.

Although Sustainable

Travel Finland programme

aligns with internationally

known sustainable tourism

programmes and Sustainable

Development Goals (SDGs),

it is built for regional and

national development needs.

Instead of adopting a foreign

model to Finland, a national

model has consequently

been designed to address

these needs, as well as

regional differences.

While for the international

travel trade the Sustainable

Travel Finland label provides

an easy way to identify a

sustainable tourism provider

or a destination, for the

tourism industry in Finland it

provides a 7-step sustainable

tourism development path.

This 7-step programme

is available on an online

platform specifically built for

the purpose. The platform is

supported with an “e-guide”

e-learning environment,

accessible only by those

accepted to Sustainable

Travel Finland programme.

Step 1. Commitment

Step 2. Increasing knowhow

Step 3. Development plan

Step 4. Responsible


Step 5. Certification

Step 6. Verification and


Step 7. Agreement on

Sustainable Travel Finland

Visitors will also be involved

as they will promise to

respect and treasure Finnish

nature. A great challenge

that should be adopted by

other countries…




Tourism Minister, Philippines





As the Philippines are attracting more

and more tourists, we asked Bernadette

Romulo-Puyat, Tourism Minister of

the Philippines to share the country’s

international tourism evolution in 2018.

Visitor arrivals to the Philippines reached 7,168,467

arrivals in 2018, up by 8.27% over 2017 with Korea,

China, and the USA representing over a million

arrivals each. Total earnings from tourism reached

USD 7.71 billion in 2018. Important events last year

included the rehabilitation of Boracay, the country’s

flagship destination which was also an opportunity

for secondary tourism spots, a range of new air

routes to secondary airports and the opening of

Panglao Airport in Bohol.

How important is turning sustainability for the

tourism sector?

We are creating a culture of Sustainable Tourism by

prioritising the enforcement of environmental laws

in major tourist destinations like El Nido and Coron,

Panglao, Siargao del Norte, and Manila Bay. Strategy

on sustainability includes the establishment of

carrying capacity regulation in destinations in

cooperation with local governments, the private

sector and communities. The DOT has also been

consistent in promoting green standards for the

whole tourism industry. We also added a digital

campaign on sustainable tourism to the “It’s More

Fun in the Philippines” campaign


ITB ASIA NEWS • Friday 18 October 2019








River rafting in Rishikesh

Adventure Tourism

in India

While India is famous for its Taj Mahal and other iconic

sites, below are some off the beaten track options you can

discover in India. Visit the India stand for more details.



Bir is a village located in

Joginder Nagar Valley in

Himachal Pradesh. Known as the

‘Paragliding Capital of India’, Bir

is also popular for ecotourism

and meditation while Billing is

reserved for paragliding.



From Stok Kangri Trek to Sham

Valley Trek, Ladakh appeal

is unbeatable for trekking

adventurers with its unique

topographical variations,

monasteries circuits and lifealtering




Located in Karnataka, Dandeli

captivates adventure seekers

with ancient temples alternating

with hills along the River Kali.

Beside rappelling, tourists can

also try kayaking, fishing, jeep

safaris and bird watching.



Mountain biking is a must-try

experience in Manali considered

a fabulous destination for

the untouched beauty of the




Lumshnong Village is home

to the Umlawan Cave, which

is the longest and the deepest

in the sub-continent. It is

interconnected with two other

caves with its length reaching

more than 21 km.


Auli is a must visit for adventure

and snow sport lovers. With its

clean and tidy surrounding,

glittering white slopes, and

quaint backdrop, the destination

is popular for skiing and

snowboarding in India.



Rafting in Rishikesh gives visitors

an adrenaline rush but safety

is fully ensured thanks to high

quality equipment, and expert




Flying in hot air balloons over

some of the most beautiful and

breathtaking palaces, buildings

and forts of “Pink City Jaipur” is

an incredible experience.



The 36 Lakshadweep Islands in

the Arabian Sea are a magnet for

divers for their underwaters with

pristine lagoons and unspoiled

coral reefs.





The beach here offers calm blue

crystal clear shallow waters and

is an amazing spot for snorkelers,

particularly the Barefoot Scuba

Resort which is a must for scuba



G Adventures at ITB Asia 2019

Founded in 1990 by social entrepreneur Bruce Poon Tip,

G Adventures is a small group adventure travel operator

offering more than 750 tours in 100 countries and is

riding from success to success.

G Adventures’ award-winning

trips support local communities,

giving travellers meaningful

experiences with people,

cultures, landscapes and

wildlife, while offering them the

freedom and flexibility to explore

on their own. G Adventures’

responsible approach to travel is

demonstrated through its ‘G for

Good’ social impact initiatives,

which include travel guidelines

for children, wildlife and

Indigenous people.

As Asian travellers are

increasingly getting involved in

sustainable travel, G Adventures

is marking its commitment to the

market by expanding its Outside

Sales Team. Bryce Young,

Director of Emerging Markets

for G Adventures, will now head

up a team of six Global Purpose

Specialists (GPS) throughout

Asia, having recently appointed

a second GPS in China.

The move comes as G

Adventures is confident of the

potential and the dynamic of

Asian markets, “We consider

adventure travel to be less about

zip-lining and bungee jumping

- although those are available

on some of our itineraries! - and

more about cultural immersion

that connects you with likeminded

travellers,” adds Bryce


“Our style of travel is culturally

authentic, sustainable, and

caters for travellers looking

for experiences based on their

interests, as opposed to just by

destination. Increasingly, we are

finding that these are traits Asian

travellers are looking for when

choosing a holiday provider.”

“Importantly, a G Adventures

tour provides the structure and

security for those of whom

English is a second language,

with the freedom and flexibility

to still make the adventure their

own,” he further explains

Within Asia, the company has

identified the key emerging

markets to be Singapore, Hong

Kong, China, Malaysia, India,

South Korea, Japan and Taiwan,

with GPS serving each of these

regions. In time, they hope to

expand into other markets, such

as the Philippines or Indonesia


ITB ASIA NEWS • Friday 18 October 2019




African tourist arrivals

experienced a 7%






With 67 million International tourist arrivals

in 2018, Africa experienced a 7% increase

compared to 2017. The growth was driven by

good results for Tunisia, Morocco and Kenya.

While Africa only represents 5% of market share

in terms of arrivals, it is one of the continents

with the strongest growth dynamics. Last year,

the total number of arrivals jumped by 7% to

67 million. On the other hand, revenues grew

at a more moderate pace, at +1% or nearly


North Africa recorded the best growth rate with

arrivals up 10%. The three major destinations

in Northern Africa registered very positive

results. Tunisia was leading with total arrivals

up by 17.7% and passed again the 8-million

tourists’ mark. Morocco welcomed 8.3%

more tourists last year, becoming the busiest

destination in Northern Africa with over 12.3

million travellers. And Algeria performed

pretty well with arrivals growing up by 8.4% to

reach 2.6 million tourists

Growth in sub-Saharan Africa reached 6% with

the best performing country being… Uganda.

Tourist arrivals to that country jumped by 32%

to reach 1.85 million. South Africa enjoyed

a moderate growth of 1.8% but remains the

only Sub-Saharan country to welcome over 10

million tourists per year. With a growth of 9.2%

last year, Cote d’Ivoire is close to reaching the

two-million international tourists’ mark, a

number that it will probably pass in 2019.

Cote d’Ivoire receive already more international

visitors than more established destinations

such as Kenya (1.47 million tourist arrivals, up

6.1% over 2017) or Mauritius (1.4 million, up

4.3%). Good performance was also recorded

for Zimbabwe which last year received 2.57

million travellers, up by 5.9%

International arrivals to the Middle East

reached 60 million in 2018, an increase of

4% over the previous year, while revenues

increased by 3% to 66.7 billion euros.

Best performers in the region, Egypt saw

its arrivals jumping by 36.8% reaching over

11.3 million tourists. The UAE and Saudi

Arabia stood side by side last year. Both

countries received the highest number

of visitors, at respectively 15.9 and 15.3

million. But both countries also recorded

mediocre growth results in 2018, with

arrivals progressing only by 0.8% for the

UAE while declining by over 5% for Saudi

Arabia. For Qatar, blocus of the country by

its neighbours translated into a decline of

19.4% of its tourist arrivals last year. Qatar

did manage to compensate for the losses

of its nearby markets in the third quarter

thanks to an increase in the number of

visitors from Russia, China and India.

Oman was probably dragged down by the

mediocre performance of neighbouring

UAE. Total tourist arrivals sunk by 0.6%.

The best performer in the Middle East

was Iran. Tourist arrivals last year grew

by almost 50% to 7.3 million international

tourists. However, 2019 will be more

challenging as economic sanctions are

increasingly isolating the country.

In the Levant, Jordan also had an excellent

year, with an 8% increase in the number

of arrivals, while Lebanon experienced a

growth of 5.8% coming close to the twomillion

tourists’ mark

ITB ASIA NEWS • Friday 18 October 2019






Kenya’s presence at ITB Asia shows the country’s strong

commitment towards the Asian market, says Jimi Kariuki,

Chairman of Kenya Tourism Board, who predicts further

growth in regional arrivals.

Asian travellers to Kenya currently

represent 13% of all our arrivals,

equivalent to 270,000 travellers.

India is our largest Asian market

followed by China and Japan. Asia

will continue to grow over the

years to come as flight connections

with Asia are improving. Kenya

Airways already serves Bangkok,

Mumbai and Guangzhou out

of Nairobi while Air India will

soon fly to Nairobi with a Boeing

787. We do hope to see more

connections to large cities in

China such as Beijing or Shanghai.

Flight connectivity is essential to

boosting arrivals from Asia.

How is tourism supported by the


Our government sees tourism as

a priority as it has a very positive

impact on our economy. Tourism

is the second largest source of

foreign revenues and represents

10% of our GDP. It is also a very

positive element in terms of our

international brand image.




Kenya Tourism Board

Kenya aiming

for more flight

connections with


But we now look to promote what

we call “top signature” products.

These include adventure, culture

and history - espacially in Nairobi

and Mombasa - cuisine, local

community experience as well as

sports such as golfing. We also

introduced new activities such as

climbing or agrotourism, and we

are promoting visits to coffee and

tea farms.

Are there new destinations that

you would like to promote?

We are considering promoting

three destinations beside more

traditional circuits such as Lake

Nakuru and its colonies of pink

flamingos or the Maasai Mara

National Reserve, an area of

preserved savannah wilderness.

We want to attract the younger

generations to discover the

fabulous beaches of Diani in the

south, Laikipia national forest in

the North or Tsavo National Parks

near Mombasa

The one year countdown is on for Expo 2020 Dubai, the

biggest event ever organized in the Arab world as it will

play host for 192 countries.

On 20 October 2020, Expo 2020

Dubai will open its doors to the

public. The massive event will

run until 10 April 2021 and is

estimated to attract as many as

25 million visitors with 70% of

them coming from overseas.

The Expo will be the largest

event ever organised in the

Arab world.

The Expo will take place in

the Opportunity, Mobility and

Sustainability districts on the

4.38 sq km site. Every day, 60

live daily shows, performances

and parades will take place.

Tickets for a single-day will

cost AED 120 (USD 33)

Total investments for the Expo

are estimated to reach US$8.9 bn

with US$6.2 bn being dedicated

for urban developments and

infrastructure projects.

The UAE expects large number

of benefits from the event for

its economy. According to a

report published last April by

global consultancy firm EY,

Expo 2020 Dubai will boost the

UAE economy by US$33.4bn

and support over 900,000 jobs

until 2031. During the peak

six-month period of the World

Expo, the report predicts that

it will add the equivalent of 1.5

% to the UAE’s gross domestic

product. New infrastructure

comprises roads, bridges and

the Dubai Metro Route 2020


According to Najeeb

Mohammed Al-Ali, executive

director of the Dubai Expo 2020

Bureau, “This independent

report demonstrates that Expo

2020 Dubai is a critical longterm

investment in the future of

the UAE. Not only will the event

encourage millions around the

world to visit the UAE in 2020,

it will also stimulate travel and

tourism and support economic

diversification for years after

the Expo, leaving a sustainable

economic legacy that will help

to ensure the UAE remains a

leading destination for business,

leisure and investment”


How do you position Kenya on

the Asian continent?

We remain a country well known

for its wildlife and for its beaches.


An artist’s impression of the Dubai Expo 2020

ITB ASIA NEWS • Friday 18 October 2019

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