Silence falls upon your group, utterly captivated as they first glimpse the world’s largest curtain of falling water.
Victoria Falls is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and natural wonder of the world. The guide finally tears everyone away, leading the group to the mighty Zambezi River. As your team canoes past mammoth hippos and crocodiles lining the river, an island appears ahead. Everyone crawls out of the boats, heading into the jungle where safari chairs are arranged under a canopy of trees.
After an elegant high tea, a notable local explorer walks out of the bushes, setting the scene for an extraordinary meeting location. Post-session, a small herd of elephants strolls by as your guide explains the intriguing wildlife protection story of these mostly orphaned animals.
Next you’re ushered back to the banks of the Zambezi, where a sumptuous lunch awaits. As you eat, a village school choir and Shangaan warrior dancers and drummers perform. The sun begins to dip, and as your guide leads you back to your safari lodge, a luxe vintage steam train trundles up. Onboard, waitstaff in crisp white uniforms serve flutes of Champagne from silver trays, and as the train rumbles to a stop on the middle of the Victoria Falls bridge—straddling the nations of Zambia and Zimbabwe—you happen upon the ultimate setting for an exclusive sunset cocktail reception.
Though this adventure sounds straight out of a storybook, this is what an incentive meeting can look like in Africa—Zimbabwe in particular, says Glen Byrom, expert MICE ground handler and key product owner of the locally based Twiice DMC. Byrom is right on the money. Named one of the top 52 places to go in 2015 by The New York Times, Zimbabwe now has a government as stable as its land is beautiful—plus, it’s affordable. With a new international terminal at Victoria Falls Airport; a new Lufthansa route between Nairobi, Kenya, and Frankfurt, Germany; dozens of hotels under construction; and a handful of new convention venues in the works, there’s never been a better time to visit Africa. Take it from Conde Nast Traveler, which awarded more than a dozen African properties spots on its 2016 Gold List for hotels, including lodges in Botswana, South Africa and Kenya.
It’s no wonder the Global Entrepreneurship Summit brought more than 2,000 people from around the world to Nairobi in 2015. Also in 2015, Kenya hosted the World Trade Organization’s Ministerial Conference for the second time—likely due to the fact that the group’s 2013 General Assembly there resulted in its highest attendance ever. The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development will also hold its 14th session in Nairobi in 2016, joining many international brands (like BMW, Coca-Cola, Land Rover and Prudential) that have already chosen Africa for incentive meetings and trips.
The only U.N. headquarters south of the equator is in Kenya (the others are in New York City, Vienna and Geneva), which has a convention center that can host up to 1,000 delegates. Likewise, Kenyatta International Conference Centre has several meeting rooms, the largest of which can host 4,000 delegates. Also available are translators who can simultaneously interpret up to seven languages.
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