Of MICE and more …


(Posted 19th October 2013)

Hot on the heels of the MICE Seminar held at the Sarova Stanley on the day prior of the Magical Kenya Travel Expo opening its doors, did the Kenya Tourism Board on this third edition of the exhibition introduce a new component, offering participants the chance to hear presentations from a range of experts, supported by equally competent panelists who helped to stimulate debate and interaction with the audience.

How can Kenya win more International Conferences was the theme of the first hour with Jill Henry, the former CEO of award winning Sarawak Convention Bureau in Malaysia, giving a sweeping overview of how a destination can position itself and within a few years double, triple or greatly multiply the business of hosting MICE events.

The Homestay Concept – a South African case study was presented by Paul Miedema, founder of Calabash Trust and of the Kwam Emakhana homestay programme in Grahamstown. The Kenyan panelists in fact surprised the audience when they confirmed that over 350 applications had already been received within just weeks of the launch of the concept in Kenya. Criteria have already been developed by relevant government bodies, in close cooperation with the private sector, how to grade and rate homestay locations, more than 1.000 of which are targeted as a first threshold when the programme is officially introduced in 2014.

And then did Kenya’s e-Tourism Frontiers guru Damian Cook take centre stage with an hour long multimedia presentation on Social Media for Business keeping the audience captivated. His panel included the CEO of Sponge East Africa Frank Maina, Cathy Gachie, the CEO of Barefoot Consultancy and yours truly.

More seminars will continue in the morning, with TripAdvisor’s Marketing Manager Sub Saharan Africa Chad Shiver on stage first, followed by Nigel Vere Nicoll, the CEO of the Africa Travel and Tourism Association who will speak on the Changing Face of Tourism and leading trends. Last but not least will Ian Craig of the Lewa Conservancy discuss the Role of Conservancies in Kenya’s Tourism and he will be joined by none other than Dr. Paula Kahumbu, CEO of Wildlife Direct and founder of the Hands Off Our Elephant campaign which launched only weeks ago with marches in over a dozen locations around the world against poaching and the illegal trade in ivory, rhino horn, skins and trophys. Dr. Mohanjeet Brar from Porini Camps, which itself is active in the running of three conservancies and Judy Kepher-Gona from the Kenya Land Conservation Trust will complete the final session. This value addition has already made an impact on visitors to the expo and for future editions it is expected that a fully fledged Symposium Day will be added to the Magical Kenya Travel Expo to allow participants discuss relevant current affairs issues as well as serving as a training platform by introducing and showcasing the latest technologies and methods in destination marketing.

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