ROLE STANDOFF

Uproar as Balala forms new agency to market Kenya

Industry players say it is duplicating what the Kenyatta International Convention Centre is doing

In Summary

• National Convention Bureau is charged to source international conferences and business meetings. 

• MPs to invite all the ministry officials next week to shed light on how it formed the agency. 

Tourism CS Najib Balala opens the 2019 Magical Kenya Travel Expo at the KICC on October 2
CLASH OF ROLES: Tourism CS Najib Balala opens the 2019 Magical Kenya Travel Expo at the KICC on October 2
Image: COURTESY

The move by Tourism CS Najib Balala to establish a new agency to market Kenya as the preferred destination for conferences has sparked an outcry within the industry.

Last week, Balala formed the National Convention Bureau tasked with sourcing international conferences and business meetings. Industry players have, however, said it is duplicating what the Kenyatta International Convention Centre is doing.

KICC already has a programme to place the convention centre as Africa’s premier events host. 

The bureau will also eat into the mandate of Kenya Tourism Board and Brand Kenya, they say. 

NCB is expected to undertake mapping and profiling of the status of the meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) sector in Kenya.

The bureau will also research potential domestic and international events opportunities, advise and coordinate the bidding process of MICE events by public and private entities as well as serve as the focal point for coordination of MICE activities.

NCB has also been given the mandate to provide leadership in expanding the economic benefits and impact of MICE on tourism, advise and promote appropriate MICE tourism infrastructure for development.

It is said the bureau was initially to be part of KICC but the management refused the claims forcing the CS to take it to be financed by Kenya Tourism Fund. It is understood that KTB also rejected it on Tuesday. 

Industry insiders question the establishment of the bureau anchored only under the loose National Tourism Strategy Framework saying the Tourism Act is explicitly clear on the mandate of Tourism Fund and the agencies it supports.

National Assembly Sports, Culture and Tourism committee chairman Victor Munyaka warned the ministry against setting up such agencies without consultations with all the stakeholders. 

The Machakos Town MP said his committee will from next week invite all the ministry officials to shed light on how it formed the agency. 

“We are concerned about how this matter has been handled. We are aware it has been tossed from one corner to the other and we will be calling all the stakeholders in the sector to tell us what transpired,” Munyaka told the Star on the phone.

Balala, who suffered a blow after a Mombasa court barred his newly-formed Mama Ngina Waterfront Board from taking over the operations, appointed Jacinta Nzioka as the National Coordinator of the bureau. 

Other members are drawn from the National Treasury ministries of Tourism, Foreign Affairs, Trade and Sports as well as the private sector, including the Kenya Private Sector Alliance, the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce & Industry and the Kenya Tourism Federation. 

“As a high-value sector, business tourism is expected to grow revenues into the destination through its backward linkage to other sectors such as transport, hospitality, agriculture, financial services, among others. With the establishment of the bureau, the ministry projects an increase in international conferences and business meetings in the future,” the CS said. 

Edited by R.Wamochie