What you need to know:
- The dizzying numbers and predictions bode well for African economies making strategic bets to attract the meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions (MICE) market.
A recent article in Bloomberg said Kenya is well positioned to become Africa’s gateway with a near-consistent growth rate of five per cent (5.5 per cent in 2022) despite adverse shocks to imported food and energy prices.
It said some of Africa’s leading nations are hindered by domestic challenges with economic growth slowing in Nigeria, Ethiopia, the second-most populous nation after Nigeria, having political problems and power shortages dimming South African prospects, giving Kenya a straight run.
One of the flagbearers of the Kenyan economy is tourism, which surged 83 per cent last year to Sh268 billion ($1,9 billion).
Visitors rebounded to 72 per cent of the pre-pandemic level, against 65 per cent in the rest of the continent.
The Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) has to diversify its offerings and focus on niche markets like eco-tourism and cultural tourism to meet the ambitious goal of attracting 10 million foreign tourists over the next five years. Last year, it attracted just under 1.5 million tourists.
The dizzying numbers and predictions bode well for African economies making strategic bets to attract the meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions (MICE) market.
KTB’s “Barometer Report 2020” shows the sector accounted for 13.5 per cent of Kenya’s over two million arrivals in 2019. MICE facilities and infrastructure in Nairobi continually expand, providing world-class venues, hotels and conference centres to cater to the growing demand.
Research Dive expects the global MICE market’s value to surge to just shy of $2 trillion with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of seven per cent by 2031. Brainy Insights says the tourism market will reach $16.9 trillion by 2030.
Online to in-person
With business travel back and ‘work from anywhere’ still in place, many business travellers attending meetings and conferences are extending for leisure.
Booking.com’s trend report suggests that stays of 3-7 days made up more than half of searches last year. Conferences are shifting from online back to in-person.
For instance, over 550 delegates are expected to converge on Nairobi’s Emara Ole Sereni Hotel on September 10-12 for this year’s Project Management Institute (PMI) Africa Conference, following last year’s edition that was held in Nigeria under the spectre of Covid-19 restrictions .
PMI is the leading professional organisation for project management and the authority for a growing global community of professionals and others who use project management skills.
PMI Kenya Chapter’s president, Jeane Mathenge, said besides contributing to the city’s economy, hosting a much-anticipated conference a stone’s throw away from the spectacular Nairobi National Park will strengthen Kenya’s reputation not only as a tourist destination but also fast-growing MICE market.
Themed “Africa we want: Together we can”, the conference will pursue the knowledge agenda by evaluating the first decade of the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and the skills transformation needed to enhance project design and implementation.
Mr Asamani is Managing Director-Sub-Saharan Africa, PMI.