Amid global travel restrictions, social-distancing protocols and prohibitions on mass gatherings, Kenya’s meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) segment is beginning to look up. Hospitality industry players are hopeful that the MICE segment will recover after a sharp decline in 2020 and first two weeks of 2021.
“We are very optimistic about the year 2021. We have started receiving a number of conference enquiries across our 8 hotels in Kenya. People have realised that business has to go on despite the challenges we are facing,” said Mr Hasnain, Managing Director of PrideInn Group.
Christmas and New Year holidays gave tourism sector a sigh of relief after experiencing a long dry spell. The multi-billion-shilling sector has however seen a decline in business in the first two weeks of 2021 attributed scarcity of foreign arrivals owing to prolonged restrictions resulting from Covid-19 pandemic and other competing priorities locally.
Stakeholders are now hoping for a comeback in the meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions tourism as it remains the only alternative after foreign tourist arrivals significantly declined in 2020 due to Covid-19 pandemic. Many local, regional and international companies are now booking their conferences for 2021.
“Before the outbreak of Covid-19 virus and the subsequent introduction of travel restrictions and social-distancing guidelines, MICE segment in Kenya presented a promising growth avenue for the industry seeking to diversify tourism offerings,” Mr. Noorani who also doubles as Chairman of The Kenyan Coast Working Group added
Review curfew hours
“On the other hand, merry makers feel the time to have dinner is too limited because of the curfew therefore they get discouraged. We are facing an uphill task in bringing hospitality business to where it used to be before the pandemic,” said Mr Victor Shitakha, Kenya Coast Tourism Association Chairman
Kenya MICE industry was among the continental leaders before the COVID-19 pandemic occurred. As a result of severe quarantine measures that had to be put in place, the majority of destinations all over the world introduced COVID-19-related travel restrictions that were valid until late last year.
The Government of Kenya has identified MICE as one of the key drivers for the economic development and diversification of tourism in the country. The Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife officially engaged The Business Tourism Company (TBTC) in March 2020 to support the Kenya National Convention Bureau (KNCB) in implementing the National MICE Strategy and to nurture an international best practice National Convention Bureau to drive the sector to its deserved success.