A new Dawn for Meetings In Kenya
Our forefathers would gather under the cool shade of a tree and hold meetings long before the advent of dedicated meeting spaces and purpose-built convention and expo centres.
Since then, Kenya has made considerable progress, having been recognised as a leading leisure and business travel destination on several occasions. Kenya’s Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, Events and Exhibitions industry has increasingly become a major contributor to economic growth, empowerment and job creation for our people.
The industry has vibrant private sector associations such as the Events Managers Association of Kenya (EMAK), Association of Kenya Business Events (AKBE) and Event Organizers Association of Kenya (EOAK) who represent a myriad of self-employed event professionals and a workforce that is largely formed by small to medium size enterprises.
Business events go hand-in-hand with tourism. This is often the first introduction international delegates have to Kenya, through pre-post tours and accompanying persons programmes. Many delegates will return to Kenya with their families to further explore our magical country; they might not have otherwise visited if it weren’t for the conference, exhibition, incentive or event that they participated in.
However, over the years, lack of clear messaging about the market readiness and available facilities to host meetings has been an inhibitor to growth of the sector.
While addressing the apparent gap, Hon. Safina Kwekwe, PS State Department for Tourism and Chair of the Kenya National Convention Bureau Advisory Board said, “the importance of embracing business events (MICE) to enhance and diversify tourism receipts has been recognized by the Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife. The institutionalization of KNCB in 2019 to implement the National MICE Blueprint 2030 is a first step in supporting the sector’s growth through a coordinated proactive approach to business events development, stakeholder management and marketing”.
To fast-track the development of the MICE sector in a meaningful, sustainable and purposeful way, Jacinta Nzioka, National Coordinator and CEO Kenya National Convention Bureau (KNCB) added that, “the convention bureau has put in place strategies that will define how the MICE industry will work and measure its success, staying focused on the higher purpose and transformational impact of MICE on individuals, the business world and Kenya’s communities at large”.
Whilst the world battles with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) that has wreaked havoc on countries, health and tourism sectors, and the world’s economy at large, governments will play a crucial role in the restart and recovery of the MICE industry in the weeks and months ahead.
As demand and supply for travel continues to shift with markets reopening at varying speeds, destinations must stay on top of these shifts in consumer behaviours in their respective markets, so they can act with speed to capture market share. This has informed the Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife and KNCB to develop the Meet in Kenya MICE Brand position as part of a broader strategy to diversify tourism industry into MICE, and demonstrate what the country stands for, its suitability, facilities and qualities for hosting world class events.
The Meet in Kenya brand and messaging strategy will go a long way in differentiating Kenya’s Business Travel offer and value proposition in light of evolving traveler preferences, needs, and concerns. It will also serve to reassure travelers on the safety of travel to Kenya by addressing their health concerns, raise awareness of the destination, including added safety measures and local government regulations and contribute to revive local economies supported by tourism.
“Whilst we cannot predict when this pandemic will end, nor when our industry will fully recover… we do know that great things happen when people come together! The Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife through KNCB will continue to play a crucial role in industry level ecosystem collaboration, approaching the future in a clustered way that provides the platform to rethink networks, create new networks, and repackage the destination offering collectively,” said Hon. Najib Balala Cabinet Secretary for Tourism and Wildlife.
“My ministry is committed to unlocking the value of the MICE sector in Kenya’s rebound. We foresee drastic changes in the meetings industry and KNCB will be on the forefront to provide leadership in expanding the economic benefits and impact of MICE post COVID-19,” he added.
MICE connects societies, crosses cultural divides, positively impacts learning and discovery, and has the ability to take on some of the greatest challenges humankind has ever faced.
Looping back to when our ancestors would gather under the cool shade of the Mugumo (Fig) tree and hold meetings; this tree has become symbolic in Kenya, and under its shade, some of the most historic decisions have been taken. In November 2020, His Excellency Hon. Uhuru Kenyatta described the Mugumo tree as a “beacon of Kenya’s cultural and ecological heritage” when he issued a decree that spared the life of a 100-year-old fig tree along Waiyaki Way in Westlands Nairobi from destruction to make way for an expressway.
This tree holds a special place in the hearts of Kenyans, and is the main inspiration behind Kenya Convention Bureau’s brand identity. A symbol of strength and safety; spreading its beautiful canopy far and wide, accommodating to all. Its vast branches representing the endless opportunities that would arise from congregating in this destination. Underneath the shade of its beautiful canopy, many will come and showcase their ideas to the world. Its trunk, solid; representing the professionalism, creativity and innovation of the private sector in Kenya, while its deep-diving roots are anchored by a strong foundation, that is, the Kenya Convention Bureau!
Come, Meet in Kenya!