Conference tourism in Kisumu is slowly picking up after being brought to its knees by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Kisumu County Executive Committee Member (CECM) in charge of tourism, Achie Alai said since the government eased Covid-19 restrictions, conference and business tourism in the area has improved.
The number of people travelling to Kisumu for business and leisure by air daily, she said, tripled from 1, 000 in August to 3, 000 in October.
Six airlines, she added, were operating at least two flights each to Kisumu International Airport (KIA) daily with potential of increasing the number of flights given the rising demand.
An additional 3, 000 people, she said, drive to Kisumu in their personal cars especially during the weekends for business and to sample the lakeside city’s rich entertainment menu.
More visitors, she added, were expected to come through the passenger train which is expected to resume operations in November.
Construction of the Sh1.4 billion Afri-Cities Convention Center at Mamboleo which is expected to be completed by April next year, she said will be a game changer.
With a capacity of 6, 000 delegates and a range of modern conference facilities and break away rooms, she said Kisumu was set to attract key regional and international meetings thus boosting business travel and conference tourism.
“Most of our hotels are now applying for rating by the Tourism Regulatory Authority (TRA) so that when these visitors start trickling in they benefit,” she said.
Even though the lake side city does not have a five star hotel, she said a good number of facilities in the area qualify and were likely to be rated in the new round being conducted by TRA.
Kisumu’s bed capacity, she disclosed, has grown by 10 per cent bringing the total number of beds in the area to 6, 246.
The number, she added, was set to grow further given that some four big hotels are set to open doors for visitors ahead of the Afri-Cities conference slated for May 17-21, 2022.
More beds, she added, were expected from the air b and b sector with some 350 operators already registered.
Through the offices of Sub-County administrators, she said plans were underway to sensitize more locals who have additional space within their homes to embrace home stay tourism as more visitors are expected in the area.
“The tremendous growth in the sector is attributed to the multi-sectoral approach we have taken through bringing together different stakeholders from the county government, national government, state corporations and other players in the sector,” she said.
Through the umbrella body Lake Victoria Tourism Association (LVTA) where all the actors sit, the CECM said strategies have been developed to market Kisumu as the regional conference tourism hub.
Plans, she added, were underway to map out all night clubs in the area after which TRA shall inspect them to ensure that they have modern facilities to attract revellers as the festive season draws near.
Alai made the remarks on Thursday during the official opening of Mirage Palace Hotel in Kisumu.
The hotel adds to the number of high end facilities coming up in the lakeside city to tap into the rising number of visitors to the area.
Mirage Palace General Manager Titus Ogal said the modern conference facilities, restaurant and rooms have been designed to international standards to set trends in the Western tourism circuit.
By Chris Mahandara