Kenya loses out to Rwanda on conference hosting

Wednesday September 19 2018

Kigali Convention Center

Participants network at break time during a conference at Kigali Convention Center. Kenyan hospitality industry is losing out millions of shillings annually to Rwanda. PHOTO | CYRIL NDEGEYA | NMG 

By BUSINESS DAILY
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The Kenyan hospitality industry is losing out millions of shillings annually to its Rwandan counterpart as the international community shifts focus on conference hosting to the neighbouring country.

Failure by local hotels to adopt sustainable tourism policies and failure by the government to incentivise and market the country as a meetings destination are the major reasons behind the shift, investors were told on Tuesday.

“A look at our MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and events) calendar shows that right now we have more international conferences heading to Rwanda than to Kenya because the international community sees Rwanda selling itself as a green destination,” Kezy Mukiri, founder of Zuri Events and convener of the MICE Summit said.

This is backed by data by the International Conference and Convention Association (ICCA), an organisation that analyses trends on global conventions, which shows Kenya hosted 17 global conferences last year compared to 21 held by Rwanda.

The report further ranked Rwanda as the third most-preferred destination in East Africa for international conferences last year, with Kenya placing fourth in a tie with Egypt and Ethiopia.

The trend follows the growing reputation of Rwandan hotels after the government in 2014 set up a convention bureau to market the private sector as a meetings, events and conferences hub.

The agency was directly involved in organising several high-profile events including the World Economic Forum (WEF), the Global African Investment Summit, the African Union Summit (AU) and the Africa Hotel Investment Forum (AHIF) in 2016.

Ms Mukiri reckons there is need for the Kenyan government to move fast and establish a similar agency that has been in the pipeline since last year in order to match strides made by Rwanda.

Kenya’s efforts to grow its MICE industry have however been boosted by the upcoming Global MICE Summit to be held in Nairobi this November.

The event will help local players in the hospitality and tourism industry to learn from their international counterparts in leading MICE Destinations such