KENYA – The Kenyan Government is looking at building a 5,000 capacity convention centre in Mombasa and a more modest conference facility in Kisumu, with a working title of Lake Victoria Conference Centre.
The east African country is keen to expand its niche for conference tourism to supplement its historic wildlife safari and beach tourism business.
Tourism Minister Najib Balala said he had instructed the Kenya Tourism Development Corporation to proceed to the design stage in Mombassa. “I am hoping that by end of next year we will have the facility up and running,” he said.
Kenya’s international conference heritage stretches back to the World Bank conference in 1973 at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre in Nairobi.
The country is Eastern Africa’s economic hub and regional conferences are a big target today for the country’s MICE sector.
“Our country’s ranking in the industry has been rising exponentially (in the ICCA rankings – ed),” KICC MD Beatrice Makawiti tells CMW, “and now the country stands at No.3 in Africa, closing in on South Africa and Egypt”.
In the ICCA 2009 country statistics Kenya was placed fourth on the continent for qualifying meetings.
At the global level, Kenya has moved up four places to No. 56 in the latest 2010 country rankings. “We were ranked at 623 in 2007,” notes Makawiti. “Nairobi city was second in Africa for meetings behind only Cape Town.”
Business tourism accounted for 14 per cent of tourists to Kenya between January and June this year.
Now the challenge, it seems, is to build infrastructure in the north and the Tourism Ministry believes construction could start next year.
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