Curio traders in Nakuru are feeling the pinch as the significant decline in the number of local and international tourists visiting the region.
The county, which is endowed with breath-taking beauty and scenic sites, hosts the Lake Nakuru National Park, Lake Naivasha, Menengai Crater and Hell’s Gate National Park among other attractions.
The traders sell antiquities, curios, painted miniatures, porcelain figurines and souvenirs.
The situation has forced the sellers to diversify their businesses in order to make ends meet.
Some of them have partitioned their cramped stalls to incorporate barber, shoes and cloths shops.
Mrs Susan Kamau, who sells soapstone plates, souvenirs, sandals and carved animals, attributed her declining sales to the current low number of tourists.
“The months of July to September are usually the peak season for our business but this year the story is different. The number of international and local tourists who usually flock the county during these months has substantially gone down,” Mrs Kamau said.
She added that the situation has grown so dire that she has been forced to lower her prices in order to attract more local buyers.
“I now incur heavy losses as I sell my merchandises at throw away prices owing to the current situation,” she added.
Mrs Kamau said in peak months she used to earn between Sh5,000 and Sh6,000 per day but that has tremendously dipped to between Sh1,000 and Sh2,000 per day.
“My business is now on its knees and I do not know whether it will survive this current situation,” she indicated.
CALL FOR HELP
She urged the county government of Nakuru to help them market their products to the outside world, which she said will help drive up the number of tourists.
Another trader, Mr James Shiundu, who looks unimpressed by the current situation, says he is now contemplating quitting the business.
“My business is now suffering merely because I rely on a clique of individuals who even do not live in the country,” he said.
“If things do not change soon, then I do not know whether we will survive the next two months,” he said.
Nakuru Chief Officer for Trade and Tourism Hussein Adan said the county is aware of the problem and that it is doing all it can to help the traders.
“We are waiting for the county assembly of Nakuru to pass the Trade Bill that will help them,” Mr Adan said.