Uganda, which assumed the presidency of the Africa Travel Association (ATA) a year ago after hosting the hugely successful 39th Annual Congress in Munyonyo, Kampala, yesterday evening hosted delegates and invited guests to a dinner at the InterContinental Hotel in Nairobi. The Honorable Doctor Maria Mutagamba, Uganda’s Minister for Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, welcomed the delegates of the congress and other invited guests to the dinner function, bringing back memories of the 39th Congress a year ago when she assumed the Presidency of ATA. With her was Mrs. Susan Muhwezi, the Uganda ATA Chapter President, both expressing their thanks for the honor of having been host country a year ago, after ATA held its initial function in 2004 when ATA’s Cultural Forum was held in Uganda.
It is now the turn of 2015 host country Kenya to take over the rotating presidency of the Africa Travel Association for the next year, and Cabinet Secretary Phyllis Kandie, who was the guest of honor for the evening, readily accepted the challenge. Kenya traditionally hosts the round figure ATA congresses, and the next time the organization will return to Nairobi will be in 2025. The Kenya Tourism Board, aka Magical Kenya, played a key role in preparing for, organizing, and executing this year’s congress, and Managing Director Muriithi Ndegwa, seen in the photo with some of his key staff after a media briefing in the KTB Boardroom yesterday, repeatedly expressed his delight to host delegates from ATA member countries, in particular North America. He encouraged the media team and delegates to take back their own experience and impressions of the country and tell the world that the Kenya they saw is not the Kenya often portrayed in international news broadcasts.
Meanwhile, it was learned that Rwanda will be host country for the 41st Annual Congress of the Africa Travel Association to be held in a year in Kigali, after joining the association as a full member. Rwanda was represented at the Nairobi Congress by the Chief Tourism Officer at the Rwanda Development Board, Ms. Belise Kariza, who took over office from Amb. Yamina who was shortly after hosting the Kwita Izina Gorilla Naming Festival posted as Rwanda’s High Commissioner to Britain. Being selected as host country reflects the strides Rwanda has made over the past decade in raising the country’s tourism profile. The sector is now Rwanda’s leading foreign exchange earner and visitor numbers have steadily risen over the years. The creation of a fourth national park two months ago, Gishwati-Mukura, underscores Rwanda’s ongoing commitment towards environmental protection and sustainability of a now greatly-diversified range of tourism products.
The congress is now into its final day with the key topics dedicated to conservation. Kenya’s Dr. Paula Kahumbu of “Hands off our Elephants” fame is among the key speakers in the morning. eTN’s Publisher and President, Juergen T. Steinmetz, then makes another appearance as part of the afternoon panel when key media representatives discuss how best to tell Kenya’s story around the world.
Tomorrow, delegates will enjoy host country day, traveling to a destination of their choice – either Lake Nakuru National Park or the Ol Pejeta Conservancy near Nanyuki – before heading out into the country for a safari proper prior to their return home.