The 5th edition of the annual Magical Kenya Travel Expo (MKTE) scheduled to take place at Leisure Lodge Resort in mid-October is yet another mark of success on the government’s efforts in capitalizing on the MICE industry as a viable and supportive medium to the main tourism sector. Addressing delegates during the unveiling of the venue, KTB Director, Muriithi Ndegwa noted that the Magical Kenya Expo “has attracted interest and attention from the stakeholders as evidenced by the growth of exhibitors to over 40 % in the past four years”.
The Expo, which will bring together more than 170 hosted buyers and delegates from all corners of the globe will not only serve as a convention for buyers and sellers but also aims to showcase Diani to the world in it’s light as Africa’s best beach.
But as Estelle Verdier, Managing Director for Jovago.com an online hotel booking company explains, it is important for stakeholders to broaden their perspective on the contribution of MICE events beyond visitor spending. This, according to Verdier who heads the East and Southern Africa regions will help identify opportunities and leverage on hitherto unseen markets within or beyond the destination.
It’s also important to note that unlike cultural, adventure and sporting events; business events will most likely attract a corporate market segment who may be interested in trade and investment. It is therefore wise to position the host destination in a favorable position while also organizing sessions to showcase the same.
In this light, educational conventions such as seminars, forums, workshops and conferences should shift focus from pure sightseeing and lean more towards knowledge dissemination, trainings, on-site case studies and long-term exchange programs. Organizers of such events must ensure corresponding facilities in the host destinations are available and in favorable conditions.
According to MICE, the (Kenyan Meeting, Incentive, Conference and Exhibition) market is valued at $30 billion with hotels accounting for 60 per cent of the total value. The International Congress and Convention Association grades Kenya as the second most favored conference and business destination in the continent after South Africa.
Good Year for Kenya
The MICE industry in Kenya has been labelled as one of the fastest growing within the tourism sector; this is partially supported by the country’s positioning as an economic hub in the region and complimented by other factors such as suitable infrastructure, development in ICT and a flourishing hotel sector.
The upcoming edition of Magical Kenya Expo comes in the backdrop of other distinguished events including the much successful Global Entrepreneurial Summit, the beatification of St. Irene in Nyeri County and the World Ministerial Conference in Mombasa. It has been a good year for Kenya in spite of the harsh months in the beginning of the year. The final quarter of the year also has its fair share of events which include the African Travel Association and Pope Francis’s visit.