The Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) is targeting the 47 counties in a new strategy to boost revenues. KICC Managing Director Fred Simiyu says this will entail working with governors in supporting counties to set up exhibition and convention centres, which will then be marketed by the KICC as key conference and exhibition destinations globally.
In 2011, the Ministry of Tourism commissioned the national Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions (MICE) Committee and Secretariat to spearhead efforts to market and promote conference tourism in Kenya. “We have already set up a Secretariat which will be crucial in offering management and advisory support to the county governments and we believe having big international meetings, conferences and exhibitions at the counties will spur economic growth and create more jobs especially for the youth at the grassroots,” said Mr Simiyu.
Kenya’s economic blueprint, Vision 2030, has earmarked conference and business tourism as niche products that need more investments. Already, Nairobi and other key major towns are witnessing substantial expansion in the property market with new hotels coming up to cater for the growing number of visitors coming in for business and leisure engagement.
Major leading global brands such as brands such as Best Western, Radisson Blu, Park Inn, Three Cities, Kempinski and Lansmore have all confirmed plans to set up their operations in Kenya. The Kenyatta International Convention Centre is keen to attract a bigger number of business tourists through conventions, meetings and exhibitions/events.
Mr. Simiyu says events/exhibitions will play a major role in helping boost the number of high net worth tourists visiting the country and help scale up Kenya’s economic growth trajectory. “We have seen it here – events management and conferencing is big business which if well managed will no doubt not only help the government accelerate the pace of economic growth to double digit but will also help it effectively deal with the issue of unemployment.”
He Kenya stands a good chance to reap from the growing potential of Meetings, Incentives Exhibitions and Conventions (MICE) given its unique offerings and as a leading regional business hub. The country’s MICE sector has been attracting attention owing to its capacity to produce the highest per capita daily dollar yield than any other sector in the tourism industry and, according to Mr Simiyu, the need to help build synergy and focus among Kenya’s MICE players is a national strategic endeavour which must be supported by all.
“We want to ensure that we go out there, bid and win the big international meetings, conferences and exhibitions. As a country we must shift focus from the conventional mode of tourism and start looking at business tourism as the next frontier for economic growth,” he said.
The writer is a communications student at the United States International University USIU Kenya