Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, Exhibitions and Events (MICE), remain a key pillar in the development of tourism across Africa, as these provide platforms for strategic deal-making and entice new investors to tourist destinations, according to Kwakye Donkor, CEO of Africa Tourism Partners (ATP).

“These provide platforms for strategic deal-making and entice new investors to tourist destinations. With growing interest in Africa from developed economies, there are considerable opportunities to offer a range of MICE products and services to the underserved organisations,” says Donkor.

The MICE sector, in turn, boosts leisure tourism, as delegates usually extend their stay, or return, often with their families after having a pleasurable experience in the country, says Donkor. “So in this, the business traveller becomes a leisure traveller.”

Most African countries are committed to pragmatic approaches to developing their MICE tourism industry, to diversify their tourism economies through public-private partnerships, such as Rwanda and Ghana, says Donkor.

Recently addressing the media at the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) head offices in Kigali, Clare Akamanzi, RDB CEO, said Rwanda had a target of increasing its MICE receipts to US$74 million this year alone, up from US$42 million from last year.

“As you know, Rwanda has prioritised MICE as one of the drivers of economic growth, and the Government has invested in infrastructures like the Kigali Convention Centre and the national airline. We have also invested in hotels and attracted the private sector to support the value chain of conference tourism,” Akamanzi highlighted.  

It is against this background that the upcoming Africa Tourism Leadership Forum (ATLF), taking place in Accra, Ghana, on August 30 and 31, is set to offer capacity building and coaching programmes in business tourism and MICE product development. The programme will be delivered by experts in the industry. These include representatives from the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) (AU), Rwanda, Kenya, South Africa, Ghana and the UK.

The aim is to offer bespoke and experiential learning, based on global best practice, case studies and the up-skilling of the public- and private-sector delegates attending the forum.

“Business tourism is a critical tool for economic growth in Africa. With continuing infrastructure upgrades, improved air connectivity, improved visa facilitation and unique cultural tourism assets, one can strongly argue that Africa is ready for business/MICE tourism growth,” indicates Vincent Oparah, Tourism Advisor at NEPAD. “Innovative initiatives such as ATLF, blended with capacity building on business tourism developments are long overdue. I am thrilled that ATLF will help put spotlight on MICE tourism development and also recognise change-makers in the industry,” adds Oparah.

The need to grow Africa’s tourism arrivals is real, given the continent’s meagre share of about 8% of global tourist arrivals, according to Donkor. “Public-private sector dialogues at events such as ATLF can help forge unity to unlock the continent’s potential for both business and MICE tourism.”

To register, attend or access the full programme, click here