The phenomenon of the Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Events/or Exhibitions (MICE), or, simply put, business tourism, kicks off on March 22nd this year at the KICC, for the first time in Sub Saharan Africa.
Dubbed AMEX 2016 (Africa MICE Expo), the event is expected to bring together players in the meetings industry from across the continent to showcase, supply and buy their best MICE facilities and services on the 22nd to the 24th of March this year.
The event has attracted international participation including destinations like South Africa. AMEX 2016 is expected to inject billions into Kenya’s economy through the multiplier effect of the monies that will accrue to the National GDP.
Kenya has claimed its position in the meetings arena by organizing a mega event that will include an exhibition and a knowledge sharing programme with world renowned authorities in the industry as speakers.
Last year alone Kenya’s MICE tourism or better still conference tourism was a boom in the country with the hosting of prestigious global events like Global Entrepreneurship Summit, World Trade Organization Ministerial conference and the likes.
2016 still looks great with Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) in August 2016, The United Nation Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in July 2016, The Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation Conference (GPEDC) in September 2016, among others.
These conventions show that Kenya’s Conference tourism is well placed and ready to offer a unique MICE package, combining business with pleasure, meetings and events and venues, all rolled up into one business tourism offering like none other, anywhere else.
The Kenyatta International Convention Centre has taken the first step towards making East Africa the MICE tourism destination of choice in Africa.
Kenya is an exotic tourist destination with great weather all-year-round and an expansive choice of accommodation, besides its position as an economic and transit hub for eastern and Central Africa. Not to forget that we are the only country, worldwide, with a national park in the capital city, next to an international airport.
The AMEX 2016 will serve as a medium that will promote Destination Kenya for business tourism by opening up avenues of foreign investment in different sectors of business within the region through MICE tourism.
The nexus between the business meetings industry, travel and tourism has in fact been there for decades.
Ever since 1976, when the KICC hosted its first truly global conference, the meetings sector has always intersected with the travel and tourism sectors.
The meeting was the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) Fourth Session, held in Nairobi between May 6 and 31, 1976.
Kenya’s founding President, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, officially opened UNCTAD IV and invited its delegates to take time off from their busy schedule, or immediately afterwards, and make a point of enjoying Kenya’s rich heritage of splendor of truly scenic flora and fauna and the hospitality of her people.
This would be an invitation that Mzee Kenyatta’s successors – Daniel arap Moi, in office 1978-2001, and Mwai Kibaki, 2002-2013 – would find themselves extending at many other big, world-class convention at the KICC and other venues.
In those days global meetings in developing countries were few and far between, but the 1970s, ’80s and part of the ’90s constituted the KICC’s golden age, with a series of high impact international conventions in Nairobi.
Holding international meetings in backdrops such as Kenya’s tourism sector was an early attempt to combine business with pleasure, work with leisure, even in the midst of deliberations on some of the world’s weightiest, most complex and vexed matters and issues.
And President Uhuru Kenyatta, still fresh in office, already influenced the World Trade Organisation (WTO) meeting that we hosted in December last year, the TICAD, UNCTAD among others that we shall host later in the year.
In the world of 2016, the invitation to meeting industry delegates and other guests is not merely a fine line in a presidential keynote address – it is woven into every aspect of the visit from the planning to the start to the after-parties.
The Writer is the Corporate Communications Manager at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre, KICC Ms Silvia Mochorwa Kimani