Nyandarua County Government is on a mission to transform the dormant tourism sector to enhance revenue streams.
In addition to boosting the county levy collections, the move is expected to generate hundreds of jobs for local youth especially those in creative arts.
Governor Francis Kimemia admits that Nyandarua is richly endowed with an abundant game for tourist attraction among other things, but the county has not benefited from the same.
“There are numerous investment opportunities in tourism as the county has no star-rated hotels and recreational facilities. Although the county is within the Mt Kenya and Aberdare Ranges Tourist Circuits, tourism remains undeveloped in the county,” said Mr Kimemia.
According to the County Integrated Development Plan 2018-2022, high potential unexploited tourists sites include Aberdare National Park, which has abundant wildlife and recreational activities such as mountain climbing and nature trails, Lake Olbolosatt, which is ideal for bird and hippo watching, boating, water surfing activities and sports fishing.
Others are colonial times settlements where there exist Happy Valley homes, Mau Mau caves at Geta and Kimathi House.
“We also have the scenic terrains, waterfalls, rivers, and forests with abundant wildlife, which include elephants, cheetahs, lions, leopards, monkeys, wild pigs, baboons, waterbucks, Thompson's gazelles, zebras, and hyenas,” said county Environment and Tourism executive Simon Ng’ang’a.
Despite its high potential in tourism, the county receives an estimated 6,000 visitors annually, earning Sh100 million in the same period.
With the new initiatives, the county targets to increase the number of visitors to 9,000 by 2020 and to 12,000 visitors by 2022.
It hopes to increase revenue collection to Sh180 million and Sh240 million annually in 2020 and 2022 respectively.
To achieve the targets, the government has embraced a multi-sectoral approach, where some departments will jointly implement some target projects, while others will be funded through public-private partnerships and the donor community.
“Tourists visiting Nyandarua spend their nights in Naivasha or Nyahururu towns for lack of a resting place and convenient stopovers. Entertainment is today a lucrative business but most artists leave Nyandarua for lack of exposure forums,” said Joseph Karanja, a member of Engineer Cultural Dancers.
Priority projects in the current fiscal year includes Ol Kalou Botanical park to cover 75-acre land within Ol Kalou Township at a cost of Sh150 million.
Mr Ng’ang’a says this will be the biggest in Africa, with late Professor Wangari Mathaai and JM Kariuki monuments. The executive member said the developments will jointly be done through donor funding, community participation, and public-private partnerships.