After suffering several devastating blows in 2014, the Kenya tourism industry is trying to pick itself up as best as it can and move forward in this year. Attracting more visitors and increasing its market share is of course the main goal, how else will they earn more from the industry. Kenya’s tourism industry before it took all those hits last year was a perhaps the most flourishing in te region. Even after several terrorist bombings, and evacuation orders, it still draws a number of tourists but the country needs several new strategies to get back to the top of the list of most popular travel destinations and one of those strategies is focusing on MICE tourism especially targeting global conferences. The government of Kenya is banking business conferences to boost tourism revenues. It is hoped and believed that the country could make over Sh3.74 billion from such events this year, according to the Cabinet secretary in charge.
At the opening ceremony of the Meetings, Incentives, Conferences,and Exhibitions (MICE) exhibition at KICC Cabinet Secretary Phyllis Kandie said that at least 10,000 participants are projected to visit the country for various meetings and conferences this year, all of whom are of course expected to spend while in Kenya. According to the projections, every delegate is expected to spend about Ksh 374,000 on average.
Already there are four international events slated to take place in Kenya this year. There is the global conference on Public Relations in Emerging Countries Forum which will take place in November, the 10th edition of the World Trade Organisation ministerial confeInternational Conference set for Mombasa and the Africa Travel Association Congress. Skal is a professional organisation of tourism leaders from rence will also be held in December, the Skal around the world, and this year’s meeting is expected to draw about 1500 people in the tour and travel industry from across the world.
All of these events will be held in Kenya this year and are expected to bring a good amount of foreign exchange revenue. 2015 is just starting but there is already an event that is set to be held in Kenya is 2017. Clearly the focus on MICE tourism is working out well for Kenya already.
The MICE conference that was held last week is now an annual event and will be held every year. This year, the first of its kind in the region attracted some 1,000 delegates from around the country and the East African region. There is a need to change the way tourism is viewed. For many tourism is all about wildlife and game parks and beaches, the expo aims to change that perspective.
Even as we expand our understanding of tourism it would be very good for Kenya if the over 1000 delegates who attend each of these conferences also got a chance to enjoy an African safari. A visit to a national park, a mountain climbing expedition on Mt. Kenya, all those would be additional income for Tanzania.
But it is still a good idea to expand our view of tourism in Africa from the traditional wildlife and beaches and add MICE as an important aspect of the industry, which indeed it is.