The County Government of Nakuru is channeling more resources towards promotion of conference tourism to speed up the industry’s recovery from the impact of Covid-19 pandemic.
The County Executive Committee Member (CEC) for Trade, Francis Mwangi, said the County was engaging various state agencies, event organizers and institutions canvass for more international conferences to be held in Nakuru.
He described conference tourism as a key tourism product that has not been properly exploited despite the existence of many prehistoric sites, nature trails and wildlife attractions in the county.
CEC voiced the county government’s commitment to tap into conference tourism, which he said was a relatively new concept in the industry and revolves around service provision to business travelers attending seminars, workshops, conferences and conventions.
“At the moment, conference tourism is the largest and fastest growing segment of the modern tourism sector and has a higher financial impact because conference travelers spend more than leisure with their expenses being paid for by the organizations they represent,” said Mwangi.
Mwangi spoke at the County Headquarters in Nakuru when he announced that the County Government had kicked-off preparations for the Love Festival event that will be held in November this year in Naivasha town.
He said the County Government was supporting the event because of its positive socio-economic impact on the people of Nakuru County and which will help activate meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions in Naivasha as a conferencing hub which is the third largest in Kenya after Nairobi and Mombasa in terms of bed capacity.
The CEC noted that the event expected to attract over 13,000 local and international participants will provide an opportunity to county residents to showcase and market their diverse products within the festival period that will attract both the domestic, regional as well as international markets.
At the same time Mwangi called on tourism industry players, including the government to unite and realize the potential of domestic tourism, adding that as the industry grows, more local businesses would come-up, further unlocking more employment opportunities.
He promised to intensify campaigns with a view to educating and sensitizing the locals on available local destinations and the importance of tourism in a society adding that the success of tourism as a sector depended more on the goodwill of the locals.
The tourism sector performance report 2021 revealed that the industry earnings improved to Sh146.51 billion last year up from Sh88.56 billion in 2020.
The Report further indicated that Tourist arrivals through airports and border points increased 53.3 per cent to 870,465 from 567,848 over the same period with about 26.4 per cent visiting for business meetings, conferences and exhibitions.
However, the Ministry of tourism and wildlife reported in June 2020 that tourism and travel sectors slumped in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, with over 81 per cent of firms in the industries laying off most of their employees and 31 per cent implementing more than 70 per cent pay cut.
By Esther Mwangi and Kelvin Kamau