Conference tourism facilities in Kenya have boosted the county’s popularity as one of the best tourist destinations in Africa.
Conference tourism has a higher financial impact, since the travellers spend more time compared to other types of tourism. Conference tourism, includes M.I.C.E( meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) and is the largest and fastest growing segment of the modern tourism sector. Often in conference tourism, the traveller’s expenses are paid by their organizations, leaving them with substantial disposable incomes to spend.
Tourism plays a major role in the growth of the Kenyan economy, According to a research in 2013 by World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), the tourism sector in the country made a direct contribution of 12.1 of the total GDP making Ksh.462bn. It is expected to grow at 5.2% in the next ten years to stand at Ksh791.4bn in 2014. To achieve this growth, conference tourism will be a major contributor as the country diversifies its income that has been largely dependent on nature-based tourism like wildlife, beaches, physical landscape and the culture of its people.
Kenya conference tourism facilities
One of the key ingredients that travelers look for when selecting a location is the facilities combined with ideal surroundings, accommodation and quality of services. Kenya boasts a wide range of 4 and 5-star hotels in the capital Nairobi and other major towns. Travelers also have a chance to enjoy the African safaris in Kenya’s national parks, beaches and resorts at the coast region, and efficient travel linked to its international airports.
According to a report by International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA), Kenya held 38 international conferences in 2013, becoming the second most popular conference destination in Africa and 58th globally. South Africa led in Africa and 34 worldwide, with 118 conferences.
Nairobi which hosted 22 conferences emerged 99th best city in the world wide together with cities like Bordeaux in France and Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia. Nairobi slightly held more conferences than the city of Johannesburg, South Africa and Accra, the Capital of Ghana.
Mombasa held position 219 globally, holding more conferences than Arusha, Tanzania; Cairo, Egypt; and Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Naivasha, popular for domestic conferences, also made an entry in the ICCA rankings for the first time, after hosting 2 international conferences, putting it on global map as an ideal upcoming destination in Kenya.
Kenyatta International Conference Centre
Kenyatta International Conference Centre has been spearheading Kenya conference tourism, and its rehabilitation in 2004 has seen it play a crucial role to host many international meetings. This has also seen the state corporation get re-admitted to the prestigious International Congress and Convention Centre. KICC has also been mandated to spearhead conference tourism in the country through the Ministry of Tourism, and has already started to engage the 47 county governments to establish conference tourism Secretariats in their counties as part of the government strategy to improve conference tourism in the country.
United Nations office in Nairobi
The United Nations office in Nairobi has also been a key contributor, holding international conferences on United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and United Nations Human Settlement Programme (UN-habitat).
Kenya to construct the largest convention centre in Africa
The government is also planning to construct the largest convention centre in Africa. The ministry of tourism says the project covering 82-acre piece of land will cost an estimated $561million and will be named the Bomas International Conference and Exhibitions Centre. It will be located next to the Bomas of Kenya and will have presidential pavilions, five luxury hotels, a conference center with a 10000 delegate capacity, 15,000 exhibition space, coffee shops and other social amenities.
The government, through the ministry of tourism has also said it has identified land in Bamburi, Mombasa to construct a state of the art ‘green’ convention Centre, and was in the process of sourcing for Investors. The government has also been carrying out feasibility survey with Kisumu and Isiolo towns being identified as possible cities to construct convention centres.
As the Kenya aims to become one of the best conference tourism destinations in Africa, more needs to be done to raise the attractiveness and the capacity. More investments in additional accommodation and bed capacity are needed as well as building efficient transport and communication infrastructure.