KICC upbeat on meetings as World Travel Awards come to Kenya

14 February 2022 - The Star Kenya

Kenya is shopping for international conferences riding on the re-opening of global business travel that had been dampened by the pandemic

Kenya International Conference Centre is set to host the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA), a continental event with global attraction, at the end of this month, and the World Travel Awards (Africa and Indian Ocean Gala) mid this year.

It will be coming to Kenya for a second time after the 2013 event held at Safari Park Hotel in Nairobi.

The KICC management is eyeing more landmark events this year with ongoing biddings in the international space.

According to chief executive Nana Gecaga, Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE) business is back to about 60 per cent at the KICC but this is mainly for local meetings, after a low of 40 per cent since the onset of Covid-19.

At the height of the pandemic in 2020, business was the leading purpose of visiting by international travellers coming into the country, according to the Tourism Research Institute, as opposed to holidays.

KICC has been depending on rent and car park for revenues, Gecaga said during a forum on the future of MICE, in Nairobi, yesterday, adding that the off-peak was used to renovate the facility ahead of return to normalcy for meetings.

“Meetings are coming back and we are getting ready for that. We have had a number of refurbishment and making sure that we meet the new protocols (Covid),” she said.

At least 10 meeting rooms including halls have been refurbished according to KICC management.

It is targeting both the domestic and international market as the MICE business picks up. These include local expos and SME events, with the venue having the capacity to host up to 20,000 people.

Business and MICE remain key drivers of international tourists to Kenya.

Latest Tourism Ministry data shows 26.4 per cent or 229,804 of the total 870,465 international visitors to Kenya in 2021 were in the country for business and MICE.

It was the third main purpose of visit after holiday (299,802) and visiting family and friends (257, 357). 

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.

Named Africa’s Leading Meetings and Conference Destination by the World Travel Awards in the second year running, in 2020, KICC remains a leading venue for meetings, with Nairobi a leading city.

City hotels equally rip from business events both from accommodation and meetings.

Major global conferences held at KICC in recent years include the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD 14) in July 2016, Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD-VI), and the 2018 Sustainable Blue Economy Conference which attracted over 18,000 delegates.

In 2018, Kenya hosted 31 international meetings and was ranked fourth in Africa (after South Africa, Morocco and Egypt) based on number of meetings held.

Source: The Star Kenya

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