Tourism industry players call on diversification of local tourism products
Lodge and restaurant owners in Nakuru County are calling for the diversification of local tourism products in an effort to attract more domestic and international tourists even as the government eases on the COVID-19 restrictions.
Rift Valley Lakes Tourism Association Coordinator and coordinator to Lake Nakuru Lodge Joseph Muya said there’s a need for both the central and county governments to form regional economic blocs.
This, he said, will enable a joint mapping, protection and marketing of additional attraction sites in the counties as seen in other competing tourist destinations in Africa like South Africa, Rwanda and Nigeria.
Currently Kenya has six regional economic blocs namely Lake Region Economic Bloc (LREB), the North Rift Economic Bloc (NOREB), the Frontier Counties Economic Council (FCDC), Jumuia Ya Kaunti Za Pwani, South Eastern Kenya Economic Bloc and the Mount Kenya and the Aberdares Region Economic Bloc.
“There’s more that can be done by the government. Tourism is a very tricky issue because you cannot market it. The hotel themselves can not market individually. The government and the county government have to be there backing the marketing to bring,” said Muya.
With politics expected to take center stage ahead of next year’s general elections, the hotel owners have expressed concerns over negative politics that might derail the recovery of the industry that has already suffered from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
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They’re now calling for the government to come up with stringent measures that will tame negative politics should they arise.
“If we have to continue receiving tourists in Kenya we’re coming now with double strategies that most of the clients today are not talking about COVID-19. They’re talking of 2022. Is kenya going you have safe space. Because that is what the people fear. Security issues.” Muya added
According to Muya, over 4,000 employees working in the Tourism and Hospitality Sector in Nakuru have lost their jobs due to the pandemic. However, the sector is beginning to pick as tourists are slowly streaming back to the facilities.
His sentiments were backed by Lake Nakuru National Park Senior Warden Edward Karanja who added that visitation at the national park is steadily rising while lauding the role of Kenyans in the industry during the pandemic when international boarders were closed.
“During this period most of our visitors have been locals so we are encouraging Kenyans to support the industry at this time and also moving forward to enjoy the uniqueness of our parks and lake Nakuru is one of the main attractions,” said Senior Warden Edward Karanja.
Karanja, however, said that with the phenomenal rise of the Coverage of Lake Nakuru water from 44 square kilometres in the year 2012 to 65 square kilometres, has hampered access to critical tourist attractions in the wildlife facility dipping earnings.
While lodge owners weigh political scale as the country gradually hopes into the electioneering year, is it nothing but hope for them as they remain keen on making more profits in the sector which is Kenya’s second largest source of foreign exchange revenue after agriculture.