By Nicholas Waitathu
This year, Kenya will host three global conferences that will attract more than 21,000 local and international delegates. These include; the Skal World Congress for the International Association of Travel and Tourism Professionals, World Conference on Public Relations Forum, and the 10th World Trade Organisation (WTO) Ministerial Conference to be held in October, November and December 2015, respectively. In 2017, Kenya will host the World Youth Championship among other bids.
While opening the inaugural Kenya Meetings, Incentives Travel, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE) two-day event yesterday, Kandie observed that Kenya is regaining its position as a business tourism destination in the world.
Kenya plans to build Africa’s largest convention centre at Bomas of Kenya. Also, county governments are working with the private sector to set up convention centres. Kenya has only one convention centre, the Kenya International Conference Centre (KICC), but a second one is to be constructed at Bomas of Kenya to the tune of Sh50 billion. Also, Mombasa County Government is planning to put one.
The centres, she said, will help increase earnings as well as grow tourism numbers. “Each global conference to be held this year is expected to attract more than 7,000 local and international delegates among other related businesses. The economy is expected to earn approximately Sh2.6 billion as each delegate is likely to spend at least Sh374, 000 per conference,” said Ms Kandie.
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She added, “The multiplier effect of this money will greatly benefit our private sector partners in the tourism sector including hotels, airline, travel and tour operators, production house, exhibition venues and restaurants.”
Kandie stressed that through MICE initiative, Kenya seeks to position itself as a preferred business tourism frontier globally and thus manage to tap from the global MICE market currently valued at Sh2.7 trillion ($30 billion) with hotels accounting for 60 per cent of the total value. This is the first MICE event to be held in Kenya and the region outside of South Africa.
Kandie observed that the MICE tourism industry is expected to grow even further and will establish its place as a key contributor to the economy. “Our goal is to claim the first place in Africa with the best conference and exhibition facilities hence attracting business tourists,” she noted.
KICC Managing Director Fred Simiyu, said that plans are underway to enhance capacity for county governments to host MICE events. “We initiated MICE with the view to diversify tourism products and thus increase earnings into the economy as well as attract more tourists.This expo will significantly change the meeting industry in Kenya and Africa,” said Mr Simiyu. Simiyu said Kenya has the opportunity to increase the number of tourists by bidding for more global meetings.