Kenyan High commissioner to Nigeria, Dr Wilfred Machage has indicated the interest of Kenya to work closely with Nigeria in tourism and hospitality.

The envoy also decried the stagnation of intra-African trade by 15% in the last few years compared to the levels in Europe and Asia which stand at about 69 and 59 percent respectively.

Dr. Machage made the remarks Wednesday while delivering a keynote address at the ongoing Lagos International Trade Fair.

He noted that the time is ripe to make the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) from a dream into a reality by stimulating intra-African trade.

“We have rich experiences especially in eco-tourism and beach tourism where we could partner with Nigeria in terms of exchange programmes.

“Last year alone, 14, 918 Nigerians visited Kenya which is an encouraging number, on our part now we are looking at how to increase this number by working with our partners in organizing promotional activities like this one of today.

“We shall also collaborate with tour operators and other relevant stakeholders to enhance visitor experiences in Kenya.” He added.

He noted that Kenya ranks fourth in terms of the total number of global visitors to Africa, after Seychelles and Mauritius with South Africa in the lead.

“Last year alone Kenya in spite of the challenging context of COVID 19, Kenya received over 500,000 visitors who chose Kenya as their preferred leisure and travel destination.

“For us in Kenya, our economy is an agro-based economy and tourism comes number second as the source of our foreign exchange earnings hence the government has deliberated invested heavily in the development of tourism industry in Kenya.

“As a sign of commitment in making Tourism industry more vibrant, Kenya has developed the National Tourism Blueprint (NTB) 2030 that is geared towards guiding and accelerating the development of the tourism sector in the country.

“The strategy has key enablers, such as the growth of air strategy and development of modern Meetings, International Conference and Exhibition (MICE) facilities that will spur growth of tourism in the whole continent. These enablers, if well-developed in collaboration with other member countries, will accelerate the growth of tourism in the African Continent.”

Kenya’s favourable business environment and strong economy he said, has allowed many companies to reduce operating costs and thus grow their profit margin.

Dr Marchage commended the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry for its active and credible role as the sole leading private sector in advocating for an improved business environment as well as interfacing business groups and partners with the Nigerian counterparts.

The Fair with the theme: “Connecting Business, Creating Value’’ is hosting over 200 foreign exhibitors from several countries across the world and approximately 500,000 visitors participating.