The Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) management has dismissed allegations its CEO and senior managers spent Sh10 million of taxpayers money on a trip to Mauritius to receive two awards.
CEO Nana Gecaga yesterday said KICC generates its own revenue and all its foreign marketing campaigns are well designed to bring value to the country.
“We generate our own revenue we are not funded by anyone. The same way we re-invest the money to marketing the country as a conference destination. One thing people should know is that we have turned around KICC and more needs to be done to ensure we remain at the top,” Gecaga said.
“We did not go to Mauritius to collect awards, we went to forge partnerships which will bring conferences to Nairobi. When international conference come to Kenya everyone benfits from hotels, entertainment spots to other businesses around,” she said.
She said the management is looking to enter into seven new markets in its marketing campains to position Kenya as a Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions(MICE)destination.
During the 2019 World Travel Awards (WTA), Africa and Indian Ocean Gala Ceremony in Mauritius, KICC in was recognized as Africa’s leading MICE destination with Nairobi being named Africa’s leading Business Travel Destination.
KICC took the title from Durban who had held it for the last nine years. It defeated Cairo Convention Centre of Egypt, South African trio of Cape Town Convention Centre, Durban Convention Centre and Sandton Convention Centre, Rwanda’s Kigali Convention Centre and Palais Des Congress Marrakech in Morocco.
Nana has been spearheading a number of reforms at the facility since her appointment in January 2017. She took over from former CEO Fred Simiyu in an acting capacity in April 2016 before her confirmation, with Tourism CS Najib Balala tasking her to turn around the facility which had been ran down.
The conference hub has hosted major global events in the last three years.
They include the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD 14)in July 2016,Tokyo International Conference on African Development(TICAD-VI)and last year’s Sustainable Blue Economy Conference which attracted over 18,000 delegates.
It is estimated that every international delegate spends at least Sh376,000 per conference trip of about three to six days, reflecting the huge potential MICE holds for the economy.
“The more delegates we get the more hotels are full and businesses reap from this. We are doing our best to bring more conferences and this will not be a personal achievement but for the country,” Gecaga told the Star.
Major events lined up for the remainder of the year include the East Africa Mining and Energy Conference set for October 16-17, International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD plus 25),the Inter – African Coffee Organization Symposium in November and a week-long Arab Council Conference in December.
KICC won the right to host the WTA 2020 awards.
By Martin Mwita