Arusha. The Arusha International Conference Centre (AICC) will unveil its Sh3.2 billion exhibition hall this week, confident that the centre and Arusha in general would still attract meetings despite the austerity measures taken by the government.
“This facility is targeting the major conferences which normally take place alongside with exhibitions,” the managing director Elishilia Kaaya told reporters, saying lack of exhibition facilities had been a drawback.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation Dr Augustine Mahiga will on Thursday open the facility baptized Lake Nyasa Exhibition Hall built close to the landmark conference centre.
Construction of the 1,400 square metre hall, which can accommodate about 2,000 people and 100 booths at one time, started in April last year and was completed last month and was undertaken by Hainan International Limited from China.
Mr Kaaya said AICC secured a Sh2.4 billion loan from the National Bank of Commerce (NBC) to undertake the project while Sh800 million was raised by the centre from internal revenue sources.
He said that Arusha city had lacked a purposely built exhibition facilities, adding that the coming in of Lake Nyara Exhibition Hall would attract more conference and event organizers. Social events and meetings would also be hosted
“We will use it not only to boost our revenue sources but also promote our tourism and Arusha as one of the prime destinations,” the MD said, noting that they have started receiving bookings from event organizers.
“AICC will from now market itself as venue for major exhibitions. We can pioneer tailor-made exhibitions,”Mr Kaaya explained. The facility will also have a restaurant to cater for people attending conferences and exhibitions at the centre.
Despite being the largest convention centre in the country and having been in operation from the late 1970s, AICC has lacked purposely-build exhibition facilities. Some exhibitions associated with major conferences have often been squeezed in the open space in the middle of its three blocks.