Ethiopia snatches key tourism event from Kenya

by Zelalem

Kenya: A premier tourism industry investments forum scheduled to take place in Nairobi has been relocated to Addis Ababa. This follows a switch of venue that will add misery to the local tourism industry that is already struggling to stay afloat.

UK based Bench Events who are the organisers of the Africa Hotel Investment Forum (AHIF) said the switch of the venue from Nairobi to Addis Ababa has been due to capacity constraints. In a statement yesterday, the firm said the space available in Nairobi was inadequate to accommodate the huge number of people who had expressed interest in attending and exhibiting at the event.

The event was to take place at the Intercontinental Hotel, Nairobi,  but will now be held at the Sheraton Hotel, Addis Ababa in late September. The cancelation of the event in Nairobi comes amid security concerns that has resulted in large number of cancellations of booked and paid holidays as well as tourists already in the country cutting short their trips. “AHIF was due to take place in Nairobi but a surge in interest from sponsors wanting to use the event for networking and promotion of their businesses led to concerns over physical space to accommodate increased numbers,” said Bench Events Managing Director Matthew Weihs.

 “The speed of demand from new sponsors has taken us by pleasant surprise… with over four months left, we’ve already reached capacity and with a strong pipeline of exhibitors, we felt a move to a bigger location means we’d not have to disappoint anyone and we’d also be better able to reflect the growth story of the continent.” Industry players expect to lose more than Sh5 billion, due to cancellations — most of them coming after the elevation of travel advisories by US, UK, France and Australia in early May. Though Bench Events did not allude the relocation to insecurity, saying limited space was the reason, it is however notable that Intercontinental Hotel, Nairobi has over 350 rooms while Sheraton Addis Ababa has 293 rooms.

According to Wiehs, Nairobi falls short when it comes to conferencing and exhibition area. The event will play part in raising the profile of Ethiopia as a tourist destination.


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