Tourism numbers take a hike in Mt Kenya region

Tuesday December 19 2017

Tourism Secretary Najib Balala celebrates after climbing down Mt Kenya on November 17, 2017. PHOTO | JOSEPH KANYI | NMG

Tourism Secretary Najib Balala celebrates after climbing down Mt Kenya on November 17, 2017. PHOTO | JOSEPH KANYI | NMG 

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Numbers in the tourism sector in Mt Kenya region are telling a promising story even as an expanded menu promises more mouthwatering activities.

For long, industry players have been scratching their heads looking for novel ways of attracting local and international visitors.

According to the region’s Kenya Association of Hotelkeepers and Caterers (KAHC) Chairman Edward Wangechi, hotels are now operating on a scale of between 30 to 60 per cent tourists flow.

And for the festivities, they are fully booked with bed occupancy at 90 per cent.

“We have had the longest electioneering year where we were operating on a scale of zero to 10 per cent. We dealt a lot with cancellations,” he said.

An example of such cancellation is the Mt Kenya Epik challenge that was scheduled to take place at the Naromoru River Lodge in Nyeri last month which was called off due to the political noise.

About four local teams were expected to take part in the event alongside tens of individual competitors. A Norwegian cycling team was also expected to participate in the 220-kilometre series.

Such is what county governments and hospitality stakeholders have embarked on sporting activities to put the region at the centre of attention.

Last month, Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala went on a five-day excursion of Mt Kenya with the aim of promoting the country’s tourism.

This, according to stakeholders, put the region on the map with many people both local and international expressing their willingness to embark on such an adventure.

Balala was hiking with members of an adventurers group named The Seven Summits Africa team that set out to achieve a World First by climbing seven African mountains back to back in the same number of weeks.

“We have revamped our tourism activities to apart from wildlife, include agri-tourism, sports, water rafting, bike trails and Mt Kenya treks,” said Mr Wangechi.

Laikipia County led by governor Ndiritu Muriithi drove for 180 kilometres in a move aimed at promoting tourism in a fleet of over 40 vehicles.

Laikipia had been described as a war-torn county occasioned by frequent bandit invasion.

The amateur race was aimed at portraying the county as a safe destination for vacationers and also assure locals of their safety.

The governor wanted to assure residents that the area was secure for everyone to live in.

Leaders drove from Nanyuki to Lonyiek, one of the areas that are considered insecure due to threats posed by armed herders.

Laikipia is expecting more than 10,000 visitors both local and international. “We have bounced back so well and we hope 2018 will be good as well,” said Mr Wangechi.