Chandaria School of Business hosts 2020 edition of IFITTtalk@Nairobi

By Mary Mutisya

On November 26 and 27, the Chandaria School of Business hosted the 2020 edition of the IFITTtalk@Nairobi, which focused on building a resilient tourism destination through ICTs post-COVID-19. The two-day event also included a Postgraduate Colloquium on Thursday, November 26, as a precursor to the workshop. The event was jointly organized by IFITT, Karatina University, Kenyatta University, United States International University-Africa and Mount Kenya University, and attracted 386 participants on the Zoom platform and had 4,100 views on Facebook live over the course of the two days, from participants in over 20 countries.

IFITTtalk@Nairobi 2020 was a platform for various stakeholders to engage in conversations about the survival of the industry, and recovery strategies post-pandemic. It sought to present participants with the status of the industry, with a focus on analytics of travelers’ behavior online and how the industry players were reacting to the shift. Experts from various African destinations discussed the trends that have emerged amid the pandemic and how tourism is shifting as a result.

The workshop was opened by Cabinet Administrative Secretary for Tourism and Wildlife in Kenya, Mr. Joseph Boinnet, who spoke at length on the status of tourism activities in Kenya amid the pandemic and the strategies that the Ministry was putting into place to ensure the resumption of safe and profitable economic activities.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has really affected the Kenyan tourism industry. The Ministry of Tourism is working towards putting in place strategies that will be driven by innovation, adoption of technology, product development and up skilling of personnel, to ensure that the local tourism industry is able to recover post COVID-19,” he said.

These sentiments featured prominently in the presentation by the Team Leader, Travelport Helpdesk, Ms. Rehema Adam Issa, whose presentation was on the global and personal trends of travelers over the past few months in comparison to previous years. She also shared on the metrics that contribute to the confidence index of a destination, and was able to demonstrate to participants the growing confidence in African destinations, specifically Kenya.

The CEO of Kenya Association of Travel Agents (KATA), Ms. Agnes Mucuha provided an overview of the resilience of the destination throughout the pandemic. She illustrated the imaginative and innovative methods industry partners were using to ensure travellers were safe and businesses stayed afloat.

“COVID-19 has made tourists rethink how they travel. With many countries yet to lift their no-fly rules, domestic tourism has seen a surging demand. If the trend with closed international borders continues, it is possible that people will simply have no other choice. Service providers must therefore focus on listening to their customers, and observing their behaviours keenly, for this is how they will be able to capitalize on the opportunity presented,” she said.

The postgraduate colloquium held on November 26 gave a platform for Masters and Doctoral students pursing Tourism and Hospitality programs to interactively present and discuss their research with peers and mentors in a supportive and relatively informal setting. It also allowed postgraduate students to receive mentorship sessions from tourism and hospitality scholars on various facets of their postgraduate journey. The colloquium featured presentations from 2 postgraduate students and mentorship sessions from 5 scholars.

The International Federation for Information Technologies and Travel and Tourism (IFITT) is a global community for the discussion, exchange and development of knowledge about the use and impact of new Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in the travel and tourism industry and experience. Every year, in addition to its main eTourism annual conference, IFITT encourages the organization of local workshops in chapters around the world where its members are represented. Nairobi hosted its first IFITTtalk workshop in 2017.

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