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Kenya gears up for major tourism conference

By Nicholas Waitathu | January 22nd 2015

NAIROBI: Local and international tourism industry players converge in Nairobi for the first Meetings, Incentives, Conferencing and Events (MICE) starting tomorrow.

Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) managing director Fred Simiyu said the Government and private sector players have of late invested heavily towards establishment of modern conference facilities to attract more visitors into the country.

Through the initiative, Kenya seeks to position itself as a preferred business tourism frontier globally and thus manage to tap the global MICE market currently valued at Sh2.7 trillion ($30 billion) with hotels accounting for 60 per cent of the total value.

"This first MICE meeting to be held in Kenya and region and for the first time outside South Africa will bring together buyers and sellers and hopes to create a business-to-business platform for buyers and sellers of MICE," Simiyu said while explaining the two-day event. According to recent statistics, local conferences increased to 3,338 in 2012 from 2,995 in 2011, while international conferences increased from 309 in 2011 to 328 in 2012.

The number of delegates who attended local conferences increased to 413,037 in 2012 from 408,596 in 2011 and international conferences were attended by 35,663 in 2012 compared to 33,596 in 2011.

According to Simiyu, the event will help in positioning Kenya as the most preferred destination in Africa for MICE tourism and create links to bring together, for the first time, professionals, buyers and sellers of the events industry in the region.

However, he advised on the need for diversification so that the country can join some parts of the world that are increasingly becoming the hub of international trade fairs and exhibitions and in the process boost national economy.

For instance, he said, Singapore hosted 3.5 million business visitors, an increase of three per cent over 2012 and earned $5.5 billion in revenue.

Kenya, Simiyu said, is strategically located within Africa and well served by international airlines.

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