The hospitality sector in Nairobi is ready for takeoff in Meetings, Incentives, Conferences & Exhibitions (MICE) business following the resumption of British Airways Nairobi – London operations last week and UK government announcement to remove Kenya from its red list from 22 September. Industry players in the hospitality and tourism sectors have expressed enthusiasm of an early return of businesses especially from Europe to pre-COVID-19 period attributing it to government’s effort in rolling out covid – 19 vaccination programme.
Reacting to the development, operators in the MICE business described the gesture as a good beginning as part of the post-COVID-19 ease of travel.
On her part, PrideInn Hotels Sales & Marketing Director Mrs Farzana Zahir said: “It’s a sign of good things to come. Now we can have international arrivals both for business and leisure back into our economy. With resumption of British Airways and removal of Kenya from UK’s red list, even hotel owners and other hospitality businesses will begin to see increase revenue after months of travel restriction.”
Lamenting the effects of the pandemic on the sector, Farzana said the emergencies caused by the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic led to the postponement and cancellations of major tour and conference packages, in some instances, for international tourists due to the restrictions and the closure of the nation’s international airports and others globally.
“Now we can begin to enjoy and welcome business travellers as well. The sector should be up and running with time. All the talks over the past few months on various webinars and zoom conferences may eventually allow people to come out and do what we love to do best; showcasing the beauty of our country to both the domestic and business travellers,” she said.
The rollout of the Covid-19 vaccine on the other hand is poised to stimulate MICE industry’s long-term revival in Nairobi. Government efforts in scaling up its vaccination drive to inoculate at least 70 per cent of its population by the end of the year will also help to facilitate cross-border travel and enable the recovery of the sector.
“Though people are still skeptical about travelling, those that will travel will still do so with caution. We expect Meetings, incentives, conferences & exhibitions (MICE) tourism sector in Nairobi to expand by at least 4% by the end of 2021, assuming COVID-19 vaccine rollout becomes widespread throughout the year. We appreciate government’s measures put in place to ensure that the COVID-19 pandemic is kept at a considerable low level to hasten business recovery, “added Aditya Mata, the PrideInn Azure Nairobi General Manager.