BTN interview: Nana Gecaga, chief executive, Kenyatta International Convention Centre
The Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) in Nairobi, capital of Kenya, will this year host the World Travel Awards Africa & Indian Ocean Gala Ceremony.
Here Breaking Travel News speaks to Nana Gecaga, chief executive of the facility, to find out more.
Breaking Travel News: Where does Kenya stand on the road to reopening the tourism sector in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic?
Nana Gecaga: Kenya’s ministry of tourism and wildlife analysed the impact of Covid-19 on tourism, travel, hospitality and meetings industries and developed the country’s Tourism Recovery Strategy and recovery pathways.
For economic stability, the government took measures to support the industry, first by setting up Covid-19 operational guidelines, while this was followed up to ensure the industry implemented the guidelines before re-opening the sector.
The government further set aside some funds of KSH500 million (US$ 4.7 million) to help the tourism sector recover from the Covid-19 outbreak.
The government provided soft loans to hotels and related establishments, including KSH2 billion to support the renovation of facilities and the restructuring of business operations.
The government spearheaded a vaccination drive to ensure as many people as possible are vaccinated.
The sector embarked on domestic tourism growth.
The tourism and MICE products were repackaged with local market interests, while the sector also applied the product development and diversification strategy.
Once it was safe to open, the tourism sector cautiously re-opened with all guidelines in place.
BTN: What measures remain in place to keep guests safe when they arrive in Nairobi?
NG: The government continues to advocate and drive for full vaccination.
Even after double vaccination, the government has continued to insist on everyone adhering to the laid down Covid-19 protocols.
In the tourism and MICE industry, any organisation breaking that law, their licences are revoked.
Irrespective of double vaccination, all visitors to the country must have a negative PCR certificate when travelling to and from the country.
BTN: Kenyatta International Convention Centre will this year host the World Travel Awards Africa & Indian Ocean Gala Ceremony - what are your ambitions for the show?
NG: Preparations are underway to host a mega event in 2022.
The event will not only be an awards show but also a platform for the entire MICE industry and tourism sector to come together and showcase Kenya’s diversity in all aspects of hospitality, culture and development.
The KICC is partnering with other tourism stakeholders to come up with attractive pre-, during- and post-event hospitality and travel packages to ensure delegates enjoy a memorable experience during the event.
BTN: KICC was itself recognised as Africa’s Leading Meetings & Conference Centre. How important are these accolades when it comes to promoting the facility?
NG: The award will spearhead Kenya’s marketing campaigns, positioning the country as attractive not only as a leading venue, but also as a preferred destination for business events.
BTN: Can you tell me a little about the KICC and what is on offer there?
NG: The Kenyatta International Convention Center has been, and still is. an icon of Kenya’s industry for the last 47 years.
The KICC is a state corporation under the ministry of tourism and is responsible for promoting and positioning Kenya as a preferred meetings, incentives, conferences/conventions and exhibition destination to conference tourism delegates from around the world.
The centre has played host to some landmark events that have contributed to the growth of the local economy.
When it started its operations more than four and a half decades ago, it became the venue for an international conference, the annual meetings of the board of governors of the World Bank Group and the IMF, one of the first largest international conferences to take place in Africa.
Since then, Kenya has developed its slot in the business tourism industry locally and internationally, which has seen it host other historical and high-profile conferences and events.
These include the International Conference on Population & Development (ICPD 25), the ninth African, Caribbean and Pacific Summit of Heads of State and Government, the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Tenth Ministerial Conference, the AGOA Forum and the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) Executive Council.
We are located in Kenya’s capital and in close proximity to the country’s major international airport, remaining convenient for MICE tourists.
In addition, the centre is located within a small radius of world-class hotels.
BTN: Nairobi itself is considered one of the most attractive destinations in west Africa – what is on offer to guests who call in?
NG: Nairobi is the capital and largest city of Kenya, while the city and its surrounding area also form the Nairobi County.
It is popularly known as the ‘Green City in the Sun’ and is surrounded by several expanding villa suburbs.
It is the only capital city in the world that has a national park, and the city is now one of the most prominent cities in Africa politically and economically.
It is home to many multi-national companies, such as Coca Cola Africa, and international organisations including the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the UN Habitat Office in Africa.
Nairobi is established as a hub for business and culture.
The Nairobi Stock Exchange (NSE) is one of the largest in Africa, ranked fourth in terms of trading volume, while the city has a very vibrant night life.
Major historical, fashion and major and national events happen in Nairobi.
It is also the cultural hub of arts and other high-end events and extravaganzas.
The city has the National Theatre and Kenya National Archives, as well as several art galleries and museums.
BTN: How would you describe the mood in the Kenyan MICE market as we head into 2022 – is than an expectation of a renewed recovery this year?
NG: The mood is hopeful.
With government’s push on vaccination and the MICE and tourism recovery plans in place, together with strict adherence to laid down Covid-19 protocols, normalcy is returning.
The Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) is an icon and landmark for Kenya.
The location is considered Africa’s Leading Meetings & Conference Centre and by voters at the Africa’s Leading Business Travel Destination by voters at the World Travel Awards.
Discover more about business events solutions, including exhibitions, entertainment arenas, conference facilities and activities on the official website.