Tourism and Wildlife Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala has urged tourism providers to expand their products offering to deliver unique, authentic Kenyan travel experiences to travelers.

He was speaking during the award ceremony of the second phase of the Magical Kenya Signature Experiences (MKSE) held to recognize outstanding tourism offerings among Kenyan travel industry players.

Through the MKSE Program, which commenced in 2019, facilities and organizations are required to provide value addition to their offerings through exceptional travel experiences to the traveler.

The second phase recognized 29 experiences with CS Balala noting that the program is aimed at meeting the expectation of the current discerning traveler who is keener on immersive travel experiences than ever before.

“We are glad to award twenty nine (29) new experiences to add to the Signature Collection. When we began this journey in 2018, our goal was to grow and diversify our products to ensure that we are a cut above other destinations and to also have products that offer an outstanding experience to suit today’s demanding traveler. I congratulate all the winners for participating in the Program and adding an extra layer of Magic to what Kenya has to offer Kenyans and the world.” said CS Balala.

To be part of the Program, facilities are required to fill out a pre-qualification Quiz, which has a set of 10 questions. The next stage involves filling out of an application form followed by desk and on-site audits. Those that meet the requirements are then enlisted into the Magical Kenya Signature Experiences (MKSE) Collection.

CS Balala added that the MKSE program is one of key milestones of Kenya’s tourism transformation noting that despite the challenges of Covid-19, the industry was ready for kick-off once travel resumes fully. “Last year was difficult for tourism due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic which has had a devastating effect to the industry. That said, a lot has been ongoing behind the scenes to ensure that Kenya comes back stronger. MKSE is part of our strategy to revive tourism in Kenya through partnership with the private sector which is a key component of tourism,” he added.

Commenting during the awards, Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) CEO Dr Betty Radier noted that the newly recognized facilities would have their products and experiences marketed for local and international travelers through FAM trips, exhibitions, collaborative initiatives, events, training to providing extra visibility while driving conversion for the respective companies.

“Kenya has curved her niche as a competitive destination with rich and diverse experiences across the country, available throughout the year and fit for different travel segments. Through this Collection we are able to show the world that Kenya has a lot more to offer beyond the iconic wildlife safari and the pristine sandy beaches for both the repeat and first times visitors.” she said.

She added that operators within the sector will need to be aware of the emerging trends and incorporate them in their business strategies. “Some of these trends include search for authentic & immersive local travel experiences, slow travel, outdoor experiences to connect with nature, and the need to leave a positive impact in the destinations where they visit. I encourage businesses and individuals who are in the tourism space to participate in the subsequent Magical Kenya Signature Experience recruitment drive,” she added.

 In 2019, fifteen inaugural MKSE facilities that met the required criteria of a Kenya signature experience were recognized. The awards marked the beginning of a journey to deliver diverse tourism experiences in Kenya.