FILE PHOTO: Tourists travel at Nairobi National Park in Nairobi, capital of Kenya. (Xinhua/Li Yan)

Kenya plans to prioritize conference tourism in order to boost the hospitality sector, a senior government official said on Monday evening.

Najib Balala, cabinet secretary of the Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife told journalists in Nairobi that the country’s tourism sector has been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 travel restrictions.

Balala observed that the meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) market is a resilient sector because it involves meetings of people from diverse sectors of the economy and can help the country reduce its dependence on beach and safari tourism.

The world’s MICE segment has been forced to adapt to the pandemic, with some events shifting online and others being deferred amid global travel restrictions, social-distancing protocols and prohibitions on mass gatherings.

Jacinta Nzioka, CEO of state-owned Kenya National Convention Bureau (KNCB) said that Kenya will position itself as the ideal destination for regional and international meetings.

Nzioka said that Kenya’s strategic location and regional aviation hub status should help drive the meeting, incentives, conferences and exhibitions segment to play a more prominent role in the tourism sector.

According to KNCB, conference tourism has the potential for generating huge returns to the country because of its high impact on local host communities.a