01 AUG 2019: With Disney’s digitally animated remake of The Lion King topping the box office, Goway took advantage of the buzz on Monday night to gather its own pride of travel agents to see the film and, at the same time, learn about Kenya, the story’s possible, sometimes presumed setting.

Pumped with popcorn and soft drinks, a packed theatre of Toronto-area agents turned out to catch the flick, which features seemingly live talking versions of beloved characters Simba, Pumbaa, Timon, Rafiki, and others, and hated ones like Scar, and of course, classic songs like “The Circle of Life,” “Hakuna Matata” and “Can You Feel the Love Tonight?”

But first there were honest-to-goodness live talkers from both Kenya and Goway, including the country’s high commissioner for Canada, John Lepi Lanyasunya, who assured guests that the striking Disney CGI Disney animation reflected “a lot of the beautiful sites of Kenya.”

Moira Smith, Goway’s Africa division general manager, herself a native South African, nevertheless declared Kenya “one of my all time favourite destinations,” adding that it was her mission for the evening to ensure that the East African country would earn a spot on every agent’s bucket list.

It seemed an easy task, as Smith, aided by a slide show presentation on the big screen behind her showcased Kenya’s wildlife (25,000 different species), iconic game parks (25), prolific birding (11 percent of the world’s species represented), cultural experiences (including interactions with the famed Masai tribe), and underrated coastline (with beaches and snorkel-able reef).

Ambassador Lepi Lanyasunya acknowledged that Kenya lives in a “very difficult neighbourhood” in Africa but assured the audience that the country was “very, very safe,” and the government is dedicated to security and quick to tell visitors where not to go.

Another misperception he hoped to counter is that Kenya is one dimensional, that is, only about the wildlife. “One of our biggest treasures is the hospitality of the people. You will be welcome in every village,” he said. He also cited great cuisine, including robust tea and coffee.

Getting a visa couldn’t be easier for Canadians, he noted, with options including online or picking one up in Nairobi airport.

And then there’s The Lion King, a spectacular commercial for the beauty of Africa and Kenya.

“After seeing this film, you really have no choice but to visit Kenya,” he laughed.

Meanwhile, Smith revealed that Goway is planning a FAM to Kenya in November and that any agent making a booking with the tour operator to the country between now and then will qualify for a place. Goway is also hosting a webinar on Aug. 22 at 2 p.m. EDT. To register, click HERE.

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Michael Baginski

Editor, Mike Baginski is well known and well respected within the industry across Canada, the US, in the Caribbean, Mexico and numerous other destinations outside North America.

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