Beach hotels at the Coast are enjoying brisk business thanks to the growing conference tourism.
The industry players said conference tourism is the fastest growing segment of the sector, and has boosted bed occupancy which is currently at more than 50 percent.
The players, led by the Kenya Association of Hotelkeepers and Caterers (KAHC), said although hotels are still enjoying peak season up to Easter holiday in April when low season begins, conference tourism is increasingly becoming a key source of revenue.
KAHC coast branch boss Sam Ikwaye said improved infrastructure has played a key role in boosting conferences tourism in the region.
“Coast is attractive to government institutions, parastatals, non-governmental organisations and private companies that want to be out of the busy Nairobi to enjoy Mombasa’s hospitality. Conference packages are inaugural also very good,” Mr Ikwaye added.
PrideInn Hotels Group Managing Director, Hasnain Noorani said his hotels have enjoyed an increase in conference business in the recent past. He attributed this to easier connectivity by affordable airlines plying the region and the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR).
Conference visitors, he added, are big spenders.
“Conference participants spend more than their leisure counterparts because often, their expenses are paid by the organisations they represent, leaving them with substantial disposable incomes,” said Mr Noorani.
The hotelier said during low season, more than 50 per cent of the bookings are by people who troop to the Coast for executive trips, meetings and conferences.
“Local corporate and international clients have increased frequency of strategy meetings to crank up revenues for this year. Last year was not bad compared to 2017 which was severely affected by the long electioneering period,” Mr Noorani added. He said hospitality players are looking at scaling up conference tourism through aggressive marketing strategies including seminars, gala dinners and meetings to get more clients.
“Conference tourism in Kenya revolves around service provision to business travellers attending seminars, workshops, conferences and conventions. Business activities have been great over the past few days as we begin the year,” he added.
KAHC has been lobbying the government to invest in modern conference facilities at the Coast to cushion players in the sector against low season when some hotels shut down for renovation and a number of hotel workers send home due to dismal business.