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OTOAI Convention 2023 aims to bring Kenya on the Indian travel bucket-list

Special Feature: By Anita Jain Shah | January 1, 2024

The Outbound Tour Operators Association of India (OTOAI) recently wrapped up its annual Convention in Kenya on a positive note. Traditionally hosting its conventions in diverse locations such as the Philippines, Bali, Ras Al Khaimah, and South Africa, the association made a noteworthy return to Africa post-pandemic, selecting Kenya as the convention destination. This decision was influenced by the heightened interest of the Indian market in African destinations, a trend further amplified by the convenience of direct flights from Mumbai and New Delhi to Kenya.

Approximately 150 handpicked members of OTOAI from various regions across India participated in the convention, immersing themselves in the destination through pre and post-familiarization trips. OneAbove DMC and the Sarova Group of Hotels served as the ground partners for the OTOAI Convention 2023 in Kenya, contributing to the overall success of the event.

Check out the video highlights of OTOAI Convention 2023 within 120 seconds.

The 5th OTOAI Convention unfolded with a rich tapestry of discussions, ranging from wildlife and cuisine to beach escapes and luxury accommodations. The event also delved into the application of Artificial Intelligence and ChatGPT for enhancing travel businesses. This convention seamlessly blended business and networking, drawing the enthusiastic participation of over 150 delegates from India. The vibrant gathering took place in Nairobi.

The convention’s comprehensive program included immersive explorations of Kenya’s wildlife wonders, encompassing visits to renowned destinations such as the iconic Masai Mara National Reserve and Lake Nakuru National Park. This firsthand experience is expected to spark a notable increase in tourism traffic from India, further solidifying its position as one of the pivotal source markets for Kenya.

Riaz Munshi, President, OTOAI:

Riaz Munshi, President of OTOAI, expresses optimism about the positive impact of the OTOAI Convention on tourism numbers from India. He is confident that the convention will play a significant role in boosting tourism growth from the Indian market to Kenya. Munshi anticipates a noticeable uptick in interest and activity, asserting that travel operators are already gaining confidence in the Kenyan market.

According to Munshi, the convention will serve as a catalyst for growth, instilling confidence among travel professionals and generating a buzz about Kenya within the Indian market. The collective experience and exposure gained during the convention are expected to contribute to a strengthened relationship between Indian travellers and Kenya, fostering growth and mutual benefit in the tourism sector.

John Chirchir, Acting CEO, Kenya Tourism Board:

On the sidelines of the recently concluded OTOAI (Outbound Tour Operators Association of India) Convention 2023 in Kenya, John Chirchir, Acting CEO, Kenya Tourism Board expressed positive growth from the Indian market. Emphasizing the crucial role played by OTOAI, Chirchir expresses his satisfaction with the substantial participation of over 150 Indian tour operators at the convention. Underlining the strong connectivity between Kenya and India, he anticipates a surge in demand as tour operators leverage the existing ties. Kenya, recognising India as a pivotal source market, has already observed an influx of visitors from both Tier I and Tier II cities.

Shravan Bhalla, Convention Chairman 2023 and Vice President of OTOAI:

Bhalla sheds light on the rationale behind selecting Kenya as the Convention destination for the year. Bhalla underscores Kenya’s appeal for Indian travellers, citing factors such as direct flight connectivity and the availability of brilliant experiences.

The decision to zero in on Kenya is rooted in its potential to captivate the interest of Indian travellers, and Bhalla sees the direct flight connectivity as a key facilitator for this. Additionally, he highlights the array of brilliant experiences that Kenya has to offer, further solidifying its attractiveness as a destination for the members of OTOAI. This strategic choice aims to create a platform for meaningful engagement, promoting Kenya as a compelling and accessible option for Indian travellers.

Mita Vohra, Director of Sarova Group of Hotels:

Vohra expresses a positive outlook on the broader impact of the OTOAI Convention 2023 on Kenya’s tourism, extending beyond just the Sarova Group of Hotels. Recognising India as an increasingly important inbound market for Kenya, she highlights that the true effects of the convention will be realised not just in 2024 but in the years to follow.

Vohra underscores that the convention’s significance lies in its role of showcasing the destination directly to travel experts rather than consumers. By providing travel experts with firsthand experiences through pre and post-familiarization trips, the convention aims to instill confidence in these professionals regarding Kenya as a destination. Vohra believes that this increased confidence will have lasting repercussions, positively impacting Kenya’s tourism for many more years to come.

Irshad Dadan, Director & Group CEO of OneAbove DMC:

Dadan exudes optimism regarding the impact of the OTOAI Convention held in Kenya and its potential to elevate Kenya as a preferred destination among Indian travelers. Notably, OneAbove DMC is adopting a collaborative approach, aiming not only to expand its own business but also to increase the overall tourism pie for Kenya.

Dadan emphasizes the importance of fostering healthy competition rather than vying for the same business share. In doing so, OneAbove DMC is actively promoting Kenya as a destination to OTOAI members, with the intention of benefiting all Destination Management Companies (DMCs), hotel partners, and tourism stakeholders in Kenya. The overarching goal is to cultivate a thriving tourism ecosystem in Kenya, and Dadan anticipates a robust growth from the Indian market in 2024 as a result of these collaborative efforts.

Monia Kapoor, Joint Secretary of OTOAI:

Kapoor emphasised the association’s commitment to education about potential destinations for its members. She highlights the Convention as a brilliant platform that goes beyond networking, serving as a valuable opportunity for members to learn about a new destination.

Educating members about diverse destinations is a consistent agenda for OTOAI, and Kapoor sees the convention as an effective means to achieve this goal. The event provides a comprehensive learning experience, allowing members to gain insights into the nuances of a new destination, fostering a broader understanding within the travel community. In addition to networking, the convention plays a pivotal role in enhancing the knowledge base of OTOAI members, contributing to their professional development in the travel industry.

Adl Abdul Karim, Executive Member of OTOAI and Director of Creative Tours & Travels:

Karim reflects on his experience with Kenya as a promising destination for the Indian travel market. He emphasizes how firsthand experiences gained through pre and post-familiarization trips will greatly enhance the knowledge of travel experts. This enriched understanding, in turn, equips them to effectively promote and sell the destination, leveraging the insights and immersive experiences acquired during their time in Kenya. Karim sees this direct engagement as instrumental in unlocking the potential of Kenya as an appealing and marketable choice for Indian travelers.

Ankur Kalra, Managing Director of Wellcome Tours:

Kalra had the opportunity to participate in the pre-tour, exploring the iconic Masai Mara and Nakuru National Park. Kalra expresses complete admiration and enchantment with the entire experience, leading him to rate Kenya as the foremost destination for wildlife encounters.

Having been spellbound by the rich and diverse wildlife experiences in Masai Mara and Nakuru National Park, Kalra’s endorsement positions Kenya as a leading choice for those seeking unparalleled wildlife experiences. His positive feedback further reinforces Kenya’s standing as a premier destination for enthusiasts looking to immerse themselves in the beauty and wonder of the natural world.