The Ministry of Tourism yesterday launched four strategies meant to fast track the improvement and diversifying products in the tourism industry by 2015.
Speaking during the launch of National Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE) and tourism strategies at Kenyatta International Conference Center(KICC), the Tourism Minister Najib Balala, said that Kenya has what it takes to compete in the international market, adding that bringing solutions to challenges is paramount to the number of products and conferences a nation holds.
“I can assure you that we have what it takes to compete with South Africa our Major competitor in Sub-Saharan Africa. We have realized the need to diversify products in the industry and I believe, with the launch of MICE we will be able to address and improve the industry. To be on top of the market you not only need to have many conferences and products but bringing solutions to the challenges is the key,” said Balala.
According to the recent ranking of the conference tourism by the Authoritative International congress and Convention Association (ICCA) showed a marked shooting of Kenya to 3rd position after South Africa and Egypt in the African region.
While recommending Nairobi for being ranked second after Capetown he also said that Mombasa has also had a marked improvement and has joined the listing, attributing the progress to MICE.
Balala said: “This progress is indeed commendable. But is not where we are aiming at. If I remind you, at global level, MICE is one of the fastest growing sub-sector within the tourism industry.”
Lauding the Bamburi cement company for donating land for the construction of Ultra-modern convention center in Mombasa, he challenged the private sector and the entrepreneurs to form an umbrella body to enhance the development of ultra-modern centers to facilitate conferences and conventions in the country.
“I am glad to report that already the city of Mombasa is on its way to getting an ultra-mordern convention center in a land donated by Bamburi cement company, however, believing the private sector is large I urge you to form an umbrella body and take the challenge of constructing such facilities to achieve the set targets,” Said Balala.
At the same time he stated that KICC is not a MICE center and there is a need for more of such kind in Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu.
He also said that the Ministry has a specific market for MICE adding that lack of funds is the greatest barrier. However he promised to incorporate the budgetary allocation to the strategy.
“Most importantly we will launch a well targeted marketing campaign that will re-position the country’s MICE product, To achieve all this we will create a self sustaining and long-term funding for the sub –sector,” said Balala.
Balala also added that the Ministry seeks to re-engineer the MICE sub sector by consolidating its regulatory framework, and organizing its structure with establishment of a national convention bureau.
In the meantime the Minister said that the strategy has also formulated ways of ensuring the need for going green is adhered to.
“The debate on climate change and the need for us to ensure that the development of MICE is green is too real,( WebninarsO )for growth of video-conferencing are all issues that are integrated into the system for we know that nothing can take the place of physical human interactions,” he said.
Other strategies launched includes, cultural tourism strategy that seeks to build capacity in cultural tourism and heritage, provide a development and marketing frame work and build partnership, the youth and sports strategy on the other hand aims at transforming the heroic achievements of athletes, sportsmen and women to turn into a preferred sports and athletics destination and the Agro-tourism which seeks to promote linkages between framers and the tourism sector by enhancing access of farmers to main stream industries.
“It is our vision to develop agro-business into an attractive business option through initiatives aimed at marketing agro-tourism, ensuring its international standards, seeking for sustainable agro-tourism financing as well as supporting infrastructure,” Balala said.