2017 will see Kenya’s tourism industry grow, with a number of international conferences slated to take place.
Confirmed hotel and conference hall bookings indicate 2017 will witness a hype of activity buoyed by 2016’s success that saw over 100 world leaders visit Kenya at different times.
In the past, election years in Kenya have attracted an intense focus by the international media, as chaos associated with this period provided fodder for the global networks.
Conflicts during electioneering period have hurt businesses and affected their ability to provide wealth and employment.
Last year, a survey by the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (Kepsa) noted Kenyan businesses’ apprehension over the political situation as the General Election nears. Kepsa called for closer consultations between business leaders and the political class to avert revenue and job losses.
Without violence, however, sustained focus by the media during an election year could be a make-or-break opportunity for Kenya to brand herself as a must-visit destination for tourists, building onto last year’s success.
What is expected in 2017
The American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) annual meeting is slated for February 24 to February 26 at Nairobi’s Kenyatta international Convention Centre (KICC), bringing in its 3,000 members to sample Nairobi’s accommodation, cuisine and nightlife.
Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala says winning the bid to host ASTA members was Kenya’s magical moment to triple tourist arrivals.
Mr Balala notes that hoteliers, tour operators, commercial and chartered airline operators and other stakeholders will use the conference to form networks for closed-circuit deals.
“ASTA members will then return home and sell what they tasted, saw and conquered. The Kenyan people, their diverse cultures, food, our cities, wildlife and our coast beaches are a sure attraction that can translate into jobs that also attract foreign exchange earnings,” he says.
Available data shows 82,363 visitors from the US visited Kenya between January and October followed by Britain’s 80,821 tourists, 54,983 (India) and Uganda (45,116).
Notable events hosted in Nairobi in 2016 include the week-long United Nations Conference for Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in Nairobi, Africa, Caribbean and the Pacific Parliamentary Assemblies meeting, the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICADVI) and the African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF).
On January 18 to January 20, Germany’s IQPC has planned the Modern Airports Africa Conference for government ministers, deputy ministers, general managers, aviation facility director generals, finance directors and technical officers.
The two-day workshop will deliberate on technological advances on modernising the airports in Africa via development financing as well as public-private and private investments.
Power Tech Africa conference will be held in Nairobi on January 30 to January 31 where private and government energy experts will look at available sources of renewable energy equipment that can be used to fast-track implementation of smart grid/off– grid technologies across Africa.
With increased urbanisation across many cities in Africa, the "Effluent and Waste Water Management Conference" will be held at a Nairobi Hotel on February 7 to February 8 where modern technologies on handling effluent will be discussed for a better environment.
Between February 28 and March 1, 3000 senior representatives from regional governments, UN agencies, non-governmental organisations, development banks, civil society organisations and the private sector will also meet to discuss effect of donor aid with a view to improving handling of projects for public good during the “AIDF Aid and Development Africa Summit 2017.”
Maritime industry players, including top government officials, port authorities, contractors, technology providers, suppliers of port equipment and port engineers will congregate in Mombasa for the African Ports Expansion Conference scheduled to take place on March 20 to March 21 where they will discuss the biggest challenges on cargo handling.
The Africa Mobile and Digital Banking Summit slated for March 22 to March 23 brings aboard influential players in the banking sector to look at emerging challenges that threaten their businesses and chart effective responses that will emphasise on the use of technological innovations to counter the challenges.
Last year, Mykar Events Hong Kong held its first East Africa Retail Summit and have confirmed a second Sales-Driven Summit to be held on April 5-6 in Nairobi.
Other conferences bringing professionals, policy makers, traders and equipment makers to Nairobi are the 2nd East Africa Education Conference 2017, the East Africa Islamic Economy Summit 2017, Power and Energy Summit Kenya, 2017, Oil and Gas Kenya, Solar Africa, AutoExpo, Mine Expo and the Africa Internet Summit.
The planned conferences mean a number of hotels will boast of an array of advance bookings, which is a boost for Kenya tourism.
However, the political climate during the electioneering period will have a bigger effect on tourism growth, given the influence of politics on overall business growth.