•2019 tourism data shows of the 2.05 million international arrivals, 276,593 visitors came into the country for business
•Last year, business tourists grew by a marginal 2.69 per cent (7,241) compared to 269,352 visitors recorded in 2018
Hotelier Hasnain Noorani wants the government to fast track the establishment of a 20,000-seat convention centre to boost MICE tourism in the country.
This, he said, will increase the country’s meetings, incentives, conferencing and exhibitions competitiveness in the region.
“We need to have a 20,000 seater international conference facility in Nairobi. Contribution from tourism alone is enough to do this. I urge the president to do this or allow me to do it myself,” said Noorani who operates the PrideInn hotel chain.
Kenya has been losing out to Rwanda on the MICE front over the past few years, as the international community shifts focus on conference hosting to the neighbouring country.
2019 tourism data shows of the 2.05 million international arrivals, 276,593 visitors came into the country for business. This was second after 1.29 million tourists who came to Kenya on holiday.
Last year, business tourists grew by a marginal 2.69 per cent (7,241) compared to 269,352 visitors recorded in 2018.
Noorani added that it was important for the government to start partnering with local investors to boost the sector’s earnings and in turn lift the country’s economy.
“We are now looking for ways the local investors can partner with the government to increase facilities in the country. We need the state to increase incentives in the tourism industry,” he said.
Noorani also noted the current budget allocation for the industry needed to be increased adding that more needed to be done to market Kenya as a MICE destination.
While the tourism budget allocation for the current financial year has been trimmed by Sh919 million National Treasury CS Ukur Yattani has hinted the sector could get a higher budget, owing to its growing receipts to the exchequer.
“We want to look at how we can facilitate this sector, which is among the least funded, but the potential to contribute to the revenue is enormous,” Yattani said.
Last year, earnings from the sector grew 3.9 per cent to Sh163.6 billion compared to Sh157.4 billion raked in the previous year.
Yesterday, the PrideInn Group of hotels announced the acquisition of Azure hotel on a revenue-sharing management contract, with the possibility of fully acquiring the facility within the course of this year.
The new management contract will see the two investors use profits to strengthen the operational efficiency of the PrideInn Azure hotel in line with world-class best practices that suit the local market.
“We are strong, we are solid and we are moving forward despite challenges that we have. But the potential in many counties in Kenya is untapped and it’s massive even in Nairobi itself,” Noorani said.