Tourism in the North Rift region is set for a major revival after the counties established an economic bloc to harmonise trade policies and improve the sector to international standards.
The seven counties have introduced inter-county tariffs to promote tourism as an alternative source of income in the country’s grain basket.
They have also allocated resources to tackle insecurity in Kerio Valley caused by recurrent cattle raids and border conflicts.
Governors from the North Rift Economic Bloc (Noreb) have said they are committed to boost investment in the tourism sector.
Elgeyo-Marakwet, for instance, has entered into an agreement with the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) to stock Rimoi National Reserve with animals.
The county government paid KWS Sh5 million to relocate animals from Nakuru to Rimoi.
“County assemblies from all Noreb members will harmonise laws so that our budgets are in line with the economic bloc,” said Uasin Gishu Governor Jackson Mandago, the bloc’s chairman.
Other targeted attractions in the bloc are sports and cultural tourism, which has been boosted by the construction of the Koitalel Samoei Mausoleum in Nandi County.
Koitalel Samoei was a legendary Nandi leader.
SH2BN TO BOOST TOURISM
The county has allocated Sh2 billion in its five-year development plan to boost domestic and foreign tourism.
“We have plans to invest in better roads and modern hotels to offer tourists alternative sites from the coastal beaches,” said Nandi Governor Cleophas Lagat.
The county is also banking on sports tourism, cultural exhibitions and its diverse plant and wildlife species to woo local and foreign holidaymakers.
Among the sites it seeks to market is the Kingwal Swamp, which is 17.8 kilometres wide and is home to the rare aquatic antelope Sitatunga, only found in Kenya and parts of central Africa.
The antelope is threatened with extinction due to human-wildlife conflict.
West Pokot Governor Simon Kachapin says the region’s huge tourism potential remains untapped due to marginalisation by the colonial and post-independence governments.
“The region has for a long time lagged behind in terms of development but with devolution, residents are set to benefit from it unique tourism attractions,” he said.
Baringo Governor Benjamin Cheboi says his government is working on a plan to boost tourism in the region and transform the lives of residents.
He says poor roads to tourist attractions are some of the problems facing the sector.
“The national and county governments need to allocate additional funds to improve the road network to the tourist attractions,” said Mr Joel Yano, a resident.
The management of one of Kenya’s major attractions, the Lake Bogoria National Reserve, has set up campsites for tourists visiting the site.