Kenya take bold steps to attract tourists, who already keen to visit excellent sites in Kenya other than the traditional Coast and Maasai Mara National Game Reserve are welcome to visit Baringo County and Kisumu, both emerging as two of the leading tourist destinations.
Players in the tourism industry within the western tourism circuit are re-packaging their services and products in a bid to maximise benefits from an anticipated influx of visitors to the region following the launch of the Kisumu International Airport.
Hot on the heels of the airport launch by President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga last week, the Lake Victoria Tourism Association (LVTA) on Tuesday announced that tourism partners from the region had decided to shift away from tradition and come up with new products that will give the circuit a unique identity.
Association secretary general Norbert Otieno said although the region is rich in cultural diversity and captivating sites, little had been done over the years to package it to visitors.
“Most products here that can boost revenue from tourism are drawn from the culture of the people and the natural sites. Now we want to introduce new kinds of products to market them,” he said.
A range of activities are set to kick off from this weekend with a bush dinner party to be held at the Kisumu Impala Park on 11th.
According to Mr Otieno, the event will package several activities into one in order to give guests, both local and foreign, a wholesome tourism experience.
“The cultural aspects will be brought out through a variety of traditional meals and the visitors will have had a chance to take a tour of the park earlier in the day,” he said.
Other events that have been lined up to take place within the year include a gala night, a cultural night and a beauty contest.
However, the region still has a big problem to deal with: accommodation facilities are still wanting.
Kisumu Hotel Managers Association chairman Robinson Anyal said although there were more expansions of hotels and lodges going on, investors still had to do more to beat the challenge.
“There are accommodation facilities coming up currently but we are still encouraging investors to upgrade their hotels and train their staff to enhance quality services,” said Mr Anyal.
Kisumu, which is strategically linked to roads, air, rail and water transport is the main entry point to the rest of the region falling under the Western Tourism Circuit. But it only has a bed capacity of 950 or so.
Kisumu International Airport is also expected to open up the region to the global market, raising its prospects of hosting more visitors.
With around five hotels under construction and expected to be complete by the end of the year, LVTA has projected that the bed capacity could increase to 1,500 this year.
The western tourism circuit covers Nyanza province, Western and parts of the South Rift.
In Baringo County, visitors who wish to spend festive seasons, holidays or corporate team building events and retreats parties can do so at the Lake Bogoria National Game Reserve which is 107 square kilometres.