Nakuru hoteliers enjoy benefits of booming conference tourism
25 May 2015, 10:32
Nakuru - Hoteliers in Nakuru are enjoying the benefits of growing conference tourism in the country.
Nakuru, about 160 km northwest of Nairobi, provides a variety of hospitality facilities surrounded with magnificent sites, attracting both the local and international tourists.
Some of the luxurious hotels have airstrips, making it easier for the business tourists to access its facilities directly from airports in Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu and Eldoret.
"More and more tourists from the local and international arena are increasing finding hotels in Nakuru to be favorable destinations for their conferences," said Elijah Matibo, a hotelier in Nakuru.
Matibo, who owns Lanet Matfam Resort, said terror threats in the coastal region have prompted a shift in hospitality business to Nakuru, whose centrality to various attractive sites serves as a further advantage.
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"We are getting bookings for conferences from clients who previously held their conferences in Mombasa," he added.
Over time, the clients demands have changed with many searching for hotels away from the busy centers for forums and business discussions, Matibo said.
With this in mind, he said, a growing number of investors are exploring serene areas within the Rift Valley's region to set up the facilities.
"Not only are the business tourists interested in areas quiet enough to give them the room to deliberate on serious matters, but also a place where they can have a peaceful rest," he noted.
Apart from the local clients, he said majority of his visitors come from the United States and Britain, and he is strategizing on a mechanism of wooing guests from countries such as China, France and Australia.
"Nakuru is a beautiful place. After attending a conference, a visitor can easily find his or her way into Maasai Mara National Reserve. It is not far from here," he said.
Paul Gacheru, another hotel manager in Nakuru, said conferencing has increasingly become a booming business compared to three years ago.
Unlike before, when the conference organizers sought for hotels at a convenient location within the central business districts, many are currently going for secluded places away from the towns.
Gacheru attributes this change of preference to concerns over security issues in the country. "Those in charge of hotels have equally reinforced their security measures. We could not want anything to happen to any of our visitors."
While the number of tourist arrivals plunge in the nation, with the recurrent scare of attacks, hoteliers are pegging on conferences and exhibitions to remain in business.
"Security is such a crucial aspect to our businesses. Without it we cannot have international conferences held in the country," said Gacheru.
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Not only is Nakuru considered to be a secure place, it is a home to a myriad of attractive sites. A visitor on business trip can visit the scenic spots like Lake Nakuru National Park and Menengai Crater.
In efforts to divert more hospitality businesses into the county, the local leadership has also sought investments in high class conference facilities from Chinese and South African entrepreneurs.
According to Kamau Njuguna, chairperson of the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Nakuru County Chapter, the investors would be establishing five-star hotels with large capacity conference halls.
"We are looking at conference halls which can hold more than 1, 200 participants. We want those international conferences held at the Kenya International Conference Centre (KICC) come to Nakuru," said Njuguna, adding that Nakuru has a great potential in hospitality industry.
In Kenya, at least 1 million people depend on the hospitality industry, according to the country's commerce and tourism ministry.
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