Arusha hotels at full capacity as conferences return to city

                                                                          Mount Meru Hotel Arusha

What you need to know:

  • The hotels are registering brisk business as both their accommodation rooms and conference halls are filled with guests from near and far.

Arusha. It’s another conference boom season for Arusha, a city that was severely hit by Covid-19 three years ago. From the lodges tucked outside the city to hotels based in the city centre, it’s hustle and bustle as all manner of meetings get underway.

The hotels are registering brisk business as both their accommodation rooms and conference halls are filled with guests from near and far.

The Ngurdoto Mountain Lodge, a five-star facility located nearly 30 kilometres from the city, will host a major conference after a drought spell of over seven years.

It had apparently scaled down business due to diminishing conferences and a falling number of guests following the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic. For the landmark Arusha International Conference Centre (AICC), it is business as usual as visitors thronged to the facility this week for conferences and meetings.

The same case applied to numerous major hotels in town whose meeting halls, in particular, have seen a surge of clients in recent days.

“It’s another season of conference boom for Arusha. We are somehow getting clients”, said Honest Malisa, a taxi operator in the centre of the town. Hoteliers around the Clock Tower, the prime zone in Arusha, reported an increasing number of foreign guests seeking accommodation.

These include delegates in town for the Summit of the East African Community (EAC) Heads of State and allied conferences in town now in progress.

Besides the high-ranking government officials of the seven EAC partner states, others are diplomats based in Dar es Salaam and representatives of the development partners.

The EAC headquarters, which is only a few metres behind the AICC, has for the past three days been abuzz with smartly dressed delegates for the pre-summit meetings.

There was a noticeable increase in the number of delegates at the EAC headquarters yesterday compared to the past, although the summit proper will take place tomorrow (Friday). This is largely attributed to the increased number of partner states, from only three (Tanzania, Uganda, and Kenya) 16 years ago to seven at present.

There had also been an increase in the number of EAC institutions, from only three in 2005 to nine at present. They are scattered across the region.

The EAC headquarters, just like its next-door neighbour, the AICC, has a dozen or so meeting rooms of different sizes that can accommodate as many delegates as possible.

Since Monday, the AICC park yard has been converted into an exhibition field for a conference convened as part of the 60th anniversary of the Tengeru Institute of Community Development (TICD).

Mount Meru Hotel, until a few years ago, the only five-star hotel in town, was hosting a conference organised by the UN Children Fund (Unicef) and scores of other small meetings.

The 46-year-old facility has one of the largest conference halls in town, trailing only those at the AICC and Ngurdoto Mountain Lodge outside the city.

But it is at the main stadium in the heart of the city where members of the general public and the high and mighty in the financial sector will converge for days.

An exhibition of the financial sector players—banks in particular—is taking place at Sheikh Amri Abeid Stadium and will continue for a couple of days, attracting people.

The influx of people in town for a myriad of events is set to boost earnings for the hotels, particularly for the budget accommodation facilities.