The role of conferences, meetings and exhibitions in promoting international business in the ministry of East Africa affairs commerce and tourism in Kenya
The conventions, meetings and exhibitions industry is rapidly emerging as one of the important sectors that acts as a facilitator to the international trade and also as an avenue of transferring knowledge from the developed world to the developing world. In addition, the international meetings, conferences and exhibitions have been touted as an effective way to contact current and potential customers at a lower cost than alternative international sales calls or adaptations of advertising campaigns to meet the needs of multiple markets. As a result, the research objective was to establish the role of conferences, meetings and exhibitions in fostering international trade in the Ministry of East Africa Affairs Commerce and Tourism, Kenya. The study adopted a case study research design in which five interviewees, namely principal economist, assistant director, deputy as well as the director economic affairs were interviewed. The findings from the research were that conferencing, meetings and exhibitions play an important role in the Kenyan international trade activities in the sense that it has become an important point in which local and international players with global reach meet and acts as a platform to advertisement and a meeting where information is exchanged. Exhibitions and conferences have also become an avenue to transfer technical know-how between the developed and the developing world and also enable the local manufacturers to appreciate the dynamic nature of market environment and capture favorable market opportunities that exist. The challenge that hinders more Kenyan players to participate in the international meetings conferences and exhibitions was found to be the high cost involved and a lack of adequate publicity made on the activity. Consequently, it was recommended that efforts need to be put to allow for greater investment in the national use of conferencing and exhibition strategies to reach the potential investors in the country as well as facilitate the transfer of technical know – how to the local business people. It is also critical for Kenya to improve its international direct air access if it has the intention to increase international participation in its MCE events in the country. Kenya also needs to do more to work on its qualified workforce shortage and labor woes to ensure that service quality does not deteriorate. Future research should explore comparing the attractiveness of MCE destinations from meeting attendees’ perspectives as well establish the effect of the conference, meetings and exhibitions on the local communities after the meetings.