Contradictory Explanations, as Tourism forum drops Nairobi moves to Addis Ababa

A major hotel investment conference, originally scheduled to take place in Nairobi, has been moved to Addis Ababa, according to press release from the organizers.

Africa Hotel Investment Forum (AHIF), organized by Bench Events, was held in Nairobi for the last two years. The recent one, AHIF 2013 was attended by more than 400 delegates.

AHIF 2014 was expected to take place at Nairobi’s Inter-Continental hotel, in September.

Bench Events provided vague and contradictory explanations for the relocation of AHIF 2014 Conference’s venue from Nairobi to Addis Ababa.

Chairman of Bench Events, Jonathan Worsley, claimed on twitter that: “While #Nairobi has been fantastic the past 2 years, #AHIF was always intended to be a travelling forum.”

Whereas the press release on AHIF website, run by Bench Events, indicated that:

We are delighted that AHIF 2014 has received strong interest from both delegates and sponsors this year, which has resulted in a move to Addis Ababa highlighting the growth story of the continent.

The website of Bench Events, however, appears to reiterate Jonathan Worsley’s narrative in the following words:

The Africa Hotel Investment Forum (AHIF) will take place 29 September – 1 October at the Sheraton Hotel, Addis Ababa……

AHIF moves around Africa exploring new emerging countries and provides a platform for education, networking and insight into country investment opportunities.

On the other hand, Bench Events Managing Director, Matthew Weihs, told The Standard that:

“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….

“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.”

The inconsistency indicates the organizers’ effort to explain the change of venue without harming Nairobi’s reputation. Kenya’s tourism industry a hit this month due to Al-Shabaab’s terror attacks.

It is to be recalled that a survey report released by W Hospitality Group, last March, indicated that Ethiopia have overtaken Kenya as key investment destinations for global hotel chains scouting for investment opportunities in the region.

The survey – which is based on a review of deals investments “from 27 hotel chains with 60 brands”, stated that Ethiopia is one of the top destination of foreign investments in hotel services, following Nigeria, Ghana and Angola.


Daniel Berhane

more recommended stories