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Government in plans to set up agency to market business tourism

Delegates follow proceedings at the recent Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) at Nairobi’s Kenyatta International Convention Centre. The conference was one of the major meetings held in Kenya last year. [File, Standard]

Kenya is looking to intensify tourism product diversification with the planned setting up of an entity specifically tasked with marketing the country as a business and conference tourism destination.

The Ministry of Tourism said it had already laid the ground for the establishment of the Kenya National Convention and Exhibition Bureau (KeNCEB), which is set to start operations by July.

The bureau will initially be domiciled at the Kenya Tourism Board (KTB), but eventually branch out as a standalone entity.

Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala said the bureau would make pitches for major business conferences and exhibitions in an effort to grow the country’s share of earnings and visitor numbers from the segment that currently accounts for about 13 per cent of tourism industry revenue.

“We had two options to consider when setting up the bureau, which were putting it under KTB or establishing a standalone parastatal. A standalone parastatal will take a bit of time to set up and needed investment. In the short-term, we are going to position it at KTB and after about three years, we can have it as a standalone entity,” he said.

“We are doing a Cabinet memo, but want the bureau to be domiciled at KTB by July and then allocate some resources for it to start working.”

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High profile

The country has in the recent past hosted major conferences, including the 10th World Trade Organisation Ministerial Conference in December 2015 and the Sixth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD-VI) late last year.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs had played a lead role in lobbying for the events to come to Kenya. Mr Balala said the country now needed to venture out and pitch to multinationals and global industry lobbies to hold conferences and exhibitions in Kenya, building on the global interest in Kenya that the recent high profile conferences have created.

“We need to do commercial conferences like an annual meet for pharmaceutical industry or lawyers from all over the world. We need to pitch for this and need an entity that is solely dedicated to pitching for these events,” he said.

The Bureau is also expected to address concerns by investors in the hotel industry who feel an influx in investments might result in too many facilities competing for a small number of business tourists and conferences.

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