- The Tourism Fund is expected to avail Sh100 million to kick-start the setting up of the convention bureau.
- Balala has also directed the management of the Kenyatta International Convention Centre to invest in refurbishing the facility, which is the country’s premier MICE installation.
Tourism and Wildlife CS Najib Balala has appointed Jacinta Nzioka-Mbithi as the acting National Co-ordinator for the National Convention Bureau (NCB), a new entity that will push for global conferences.
This comes after the CS gazetted the National Convention Bureau last month,setting pace for the formation of the key entity that will help the country bid for major international conferences.
Until her appointment, Nzioka has been the Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) director for marketing.
She was in February 2016 appointed the boards CEO on an acting capacity for nine months, before the appointment of the current chief executive Betty Radier later in the year.
“I want to announce the appointment of Jacinta Nzioka as the acting national co-ordinator for the National Convention Bureau so that this year we can start preparing and increasing our meetings and business events, here in Nairobi and the country at large,”Balala said during the official opening of the 2019 Magical Kenya Travel Expo (MKTE).
The formation of a convention bureau now puts Kenya at par with Rwanda, which has in recent times successfully used its entity to win major conferences to the country.
The bureau will help the country tighten its grip on Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE).
“Mice is a very important segment of the tourism sector. It is not only important for Kenya but also globally because mega events, exhibitions and conferences are key and they complement the leisure industry,” Balala said.
The Tourism Fund is expected to avail Sh100 million to kick-start the setting up of the convention bureau as the country eyes major global conferences set for the next five to 10 years.
Meanwhile, Balala has directed the management of the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) to “invest a lot” in refurbishing the facility, which is the country’s premier MICE installation.
KICC Chief executive Nana Gecaga, who spoke to the Star on the sideline of MKTE, said the facility’s management remains focused in ensuring KICC retains its position as the leading meetings and conference destination.
“We have a lot of great plans,” Gecaga said.
KICC has successfully hosted key global conferences in recent years among them the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD 14) in July 2016, Tokyo International Conference on African Development(TICAD-VI) and last year's Sustainable Blue Economy Conference which attracted over 18,000 delegates.
It was recognised as Africa’s leading meetings and conference destination at this year's World Travel Award (in June), where Kenya was named Africa’s leading business travel destination.
Balala is keen to grow the number of visitors into the country not only leisure tourists but also business and conferencing visitors.
Tourism Research Institute (TRI) data shows of the 921,090 visitors to the country in between January to June, 18 per cent or about 165,796 were here on business purpose which include meetings and conferences.
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.