- As I arrived at the Ushirika grounds which hosted the fair from June 2 to 4, I came across quite a few familiar exhibitors. They were settling down to begin a long day of establishing new business connections as well as to improve on the existing contacts.
As much as I’ve enjoyed the landscapes of Moshi town with the towering peak, Mount Kilimanjaro and endless vistas, I didn’t really want to miss the smells, sounds and sights of ‘the Kilimanjaro Tourism & Industry Fair (Kilifair) recently.
As I arrived at the Ushirika grounds which hosted the fair from June 2 to 4, I came across quite a few familiar exhibitors. They were settling down to begin a long day of establishing new business connections as well as to improve on the existing contacts.
In its third edition, Kilifair has steadily become undisputed, one of the largest and most opinion building tourism trade fairs in East Africa.
It is organised by Kilifair Promotion Company, Moshi – ran by the directors Tom Kunkler and Dominic Shoo and their outstanding team.
It was initially started to be a marketing platform for the Kilimanjaro region. In its portfolio, Kilifair was originally meant to promote tourism services and products. In addition, cultural and heritage properties, Moshi town as the base for Mount Kilimanjaro climbs and a friendly and perfect stop over into the famous wildlife safaris in the north. From Moshi many travellers sojourn and make their way to the coast to enjoy themselves in the white sand beaches of Tanga and Pangani.
The fair has now reached out to a multitude of 300 exhibitors from across Tanzania and 10 other African countries. And so it holds a special place in the Tanzania tourism promotion outreach.
The fair was officially opened by minister of tourism, Prof Jumanne Maghembe who visited all stands and listened to the industry stakeholders.
He was accompanied by the Chairman of Tanzania Tourist Board (TTB), retired judge Thomas Mihayo and TTB MD, Ms Devota Mdachi.
As I moved around different stands at the fair I was fascinated by the spontaneity and serendipity of exhibitors, the opportunity to listen to their destination stories and encounters that weren’t scripted or planned. It was a pilgrimage of the sort for me. The sheer huge numbers of exhibitors were overwhelming which had almost filled the entire whole grounds.
Records from fair organisers indicated that more than 300 exhibitors from nine different countries and more than 370 registered travel agents from all over the world and over 4000 visitors were part of this year’s event.
To complement the exhibitions, Kilifair had organised seminars and workshops. Hosted buyers from different countries in the world and other stakeholders gathered day in, day out to listen to the presentations made by professionals and experienced experts in their fields.
The huge show stage presented more than 50 artists, acrobats. Musicians and clowns from all over Tanzania. Baobab beach resort from Mombasa, Kenya brought 12 excellent performers for amazing show – including the famous Lion King Musical.
TTB raised the curtain of cultural presentations. Mr Elirehema Maturo presented a paper on “Cultural Tourism – Opportunities for Tourism Products Diversification.
Maturo spoke assertively about the cultural tourism set up and how it has been helping the local communities to improve their livelihood. Moreover, how it has enhanced tourist’s experience, as a result lengthening their stay in the country, which translates into more economical gains.
The audience was later invited to the Tanzania Cultural Tourism Programme booth. Here there were six cultural tourism enterprises (CTEs).
Matunda CTE presented local food, loshoro and local banana beer, mbege on-site; Rau forest & Eco-tourism had a good story to tell about green tourism. They have all the time been asking tourists to plant a tree as part of offsetting carbon and sustaining green forests.
Rundugai CTE promoted the Chemka hot springs and the Maasai communities living side by side with Wapare and Wachaga. 4CCP based in Haydom Manyara promoted the traditional cultural festival set for September this year. The 4CCP promotes the popular four tribal groups: Bantu, Nilotic, Khoisan and Cushitic who are in the surrounding neighbourhoods. One of the popular traditional dances from the Datoga kept visitors and others entertained all day throughout the three days.
Tengeru CTE served traditional boiled coffee, one of the welcoming drinks by the WaMeru. Mto wa Mbu presented the melting pot of cultures that make their area one of the cultural tourism kingpin. And the new but highly spirited Old Moshi CTE broke the story behind Moshi town. It was built by the Germans, nearly 20 kms away and hence – Old Moshi. The story of Germans and the slave trade captivated the sense of visitors.
The last day’s talk show, which drew a big audience, was presented by Farzana Dhanji who highlighted the power of social media in tourism.
This particular speaker made an additional contribution to Kilifair to promote “knowledge transfer to industry players”. This was also meant to close the gap in the tourism industry on digital marketing and digital branding. In addition to the digital presence of their tourism products and services to reach wider and global audiences and markets.
Ethiopian Airlines was presented with an award for Outstanding Support, Performance, & Promoting Kilifair; and has been an exclusive airline partner for Kilifair for all three editions.