By Stanley Wabomba
The government plans to heavily invest in business tourism going forward to boost earnings and position the country as a meeting and exhibition hub.
To achieve this, Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala the government plans to refurbish KICC’s Amphitheatre, Tsavo ball room and the revolving restaurant as well as competitively seek for strategic investors to construct the Mombasa International Convention Centre and the BOMAS International Convention and Exhibition Centre.
The phenomenon of Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions-MICE or, simply put, business tourism, is taking on a wider scope.
Last year alone, business tourism was a boom in the country with the hosting of prestigious global events like Global Entrepreneurship Summit, the World Public Relations Forum and the World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference. The two meetings attracted over 10,000 high end delegates.
This year Kenya is gearing up to host the Tokyo International Conference on African Development-TICAD, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development-UNCTAD conference and Global Partnership on Economic Development Conference. Others are African Federation of International Auditors conference and the Hotex-Hospitality Expo.
Over the last two years, the number of delegates has nearly doubled to 77,848 delegates in 2015.
Business tourism in the country has however faced the challenge of capacity. This is what Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala is concentrating his energy on.
Going forward, Balala says the government plans to rehabilitate and refurbish the Kenyatta International Convention Center’s Amphitheatre, Tsavo ball room and the revolving restaurant.
In addition, the Ministry of Tourism is in the market scouting for strategic investors to construct the Mombasa International Convention Centre and the BOMAS International Convention and Exhibition Centre on behalf of Government. This is meant at boosting Kenya’s capacity to host business conferences.
The ministry also plans to establish the Hotels Refurbishment Fund to ensure hotels rehabilitate their premises often as opposed to the current scenario when most only do so subject to availability of funds.
Balala says the excellent performance of Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions in Nairobi has led to the increase in high end hotels and conference facilities that opened in the last 3 years including; Kempinski Villa Rosa, Ole Sereni, Dusit and Radisson Blu.