Africa Travel Week
Joseph Sanna

Appreciate and experience diverse cultures

Joseph Sanna has over 20 years’ experience in the travel and hospitality sector in Kenya most of which at the Kenya Tourism Board.  He has consistently won the recognition of leading tourism marketing event organizers worldwide since 2002.  In 2010 he conceived the Magical Kenya Travel Expo which made its debut in 2011.  

Joseph has excelled in a variety of roles in senior leadership in both public and private sectors. He is currently a director at Wasafiri Destinations. This is a digital tour operations outfit based in Nairobi, Kenya. He is part of a small team overseeing the development of an innovative Safari Planning Mobile App due to launch in December 2021. The app will sell under the brand name ‘Wasafiri’.  Wasafiri is a Swahili word for travellers. 

Where did your love for travel start? 

Early in my childhood, I remember my father’s job involved considerable travel within East Africa as he worked for the East African Railways and harbours. So, I was lucky to enjoy the opportunity to travel as a little child and I began to appreciate and experience from quite early on, the rich diversity of cultures in this region. 

Why do you enjoy working in the industry? 

While employed at the Kenya Tourism Board it was satisfying to make a difference in the performance of the Kenyan travel industry in terms of growth targets achieved on arrivals and revenue. It was also very special to receive recognition and obtain a few industry awards.   

Currently as a director in a private firm I continue to connect both my old and new networks in the industry. I think there’s a deep sense of community, connection and fun in the travel industry, quite unlike other sectors. We are like a family. This is particularly true whenever there’s a disruption in the industry such as we are now experiencing in the ongoing pandemic. It’s pleasing and encouraging to see resilience and how the industry continue to work together to overcome challenges as a united industry.  

What is your favorite destination/place to visit and why? 

Kenya’s Masai Mara comes first for a number of reasons. I have visited Masai Mara quite a few times because of its spectacular wildlife and rich cultural experiences. The diversity of accommodation options available is also impressive. But the icing on the cake is the quality of service, friendliness and warmth by the all in Masai Mara travel ecosystem.

Tell us about one of your most memorable travel experiences and why it stands out. 

My visit to Greece with my Family before the pandemic broke out stands out because I experienced the rich history I had only read in books or watched in movies and documentaries.  

We timed our week-long visit to coincide with new year celebrations in Athens and were thrilled by the magnificent fireworks. I was fascinated by the century’s old sculptures at the Acropolis Museum crowned by the huge historic Parthenon Temple.   

My family also enjoyed the local flavours. We were surprised by the cosmopolitan atmosphere in the city. The changing of guard in the Syntagama, and the brisk walk up Mount Lycabettus to marvel at the breathtaking views of Athens were the other highlights of our incredibly memorable experiences in Greece. 

Give us a travel tip you don’t think anyone else gives.. or that isn’t given enough.. 

Business trips may sometimes be demanding and quite exhausting. I often try to spare a day or an evening to walk and explore nature spots after my business engagements. This helps me to relax and unwind. Remember to carry your comfortable walking shoes too! 

Based on the five senses and thinking about travelling what do you… 

Like to see: Architecture and fashion 

Like to taste: Dark chocolate  

Like to feel:     Sea breeze on my face while visiting coastal destinations 

Like to hear: The sound of falling rain at night while I’m tucked up in bed and dreaming of a sunny morning the following day 

Like to smell:  Freshly brewed Arabica coffee. 

Suggestions on resources for other travel and tourism stakeholders. Any websites, publications, podcasts, thought leaders you can recommend or newsletters we should sign up to? 

The African Travel & Tourism Association (ATTA), a membership organization that promotes tourism to Africa in many facets. 

Tell us something about yourself that no one else knows 

Many people don’t know that although I like to pray, a praying mantis scares the living daylights out of me! I’m also a pretty good fine artist. 

Lastly, what do you love about Africa Travel Week (WTM Africa) and what you are sentiments on the evolution of trade shows being part virtual? 

Africa Travel Weekly does a great job connecting Africa to the global travel industry and vice versa. I think it’s imperative to adapt to the evolving business environment. Trade shows in their traditional format may not be feasible in the context of the prevailing health and safety reality. So, it makes absolute sense to shift things around and explore other options that effectively leverage the strength of trade shows as a business platform. We have the technology to use to facilitate a virtual or hybrid approach. So, I’d say let’s get on with it.

Africa Travel Week

Africa Travel Week (ATW) focuses on inbound and outbound markets for general leisure tourism, luxury travel, LGBTQ+ travel and the MICE/business travel sector as well as travel technology. Shows include: ILTM Africa, WTM Africa, EQUAL Africa, ibtm AFRICA, Travel Forward, Sports & Events Tourism Exchange and African Tourism Investment Summit.