Plans to privatise Sunset Hotel in Kisumu have been shelved, the Tourism and Wildlife Cabinet Secretary has announced.
Najib Balala told investors that the plan to sell the facility, one of the oldest tourist hotels in Kisumu, had been suspended to give the authorities time to come up with proposals on how to utilise it.
The CS gave the relevant tourism authorities three months to suggest ways of breathing life into the facility.
One of the options, the CS said, would be to expand it and turn it into a convention centre, just like the Kenya International Convention Centre (KICC).
''We are thinking of coming up with a big convention centre with a capacity for 10,000 delegates per session," Mr Balala explained.
Another option is to turn the hotel, which was opened by former President Daniel arap Moi in the 1970s, into a regional Utalii College. The current one at Mega Plaza is struggling due to the low number of students enrolled there.
The CS promised to find out exactly what was ailing the college; whether it was under-marketing or young people's general lack of interest in the hospitality industry.
Governor Anyang' Nyong'o complained about the location of the facility. "Some of these colleges we establish right on top of shops or restaurants are not appealing. We may need to relocate them to places of convenience."
The CS was addressing stakeholders at Acacia Hotel in Kisumu. Present were Prof Nyong'o, Kisumu Tourism Executive Achie Allai, Tourism Finance Corporation (TFC) Chief Executive Officer Jonah Orumoi, Kenya Tourism Board CEO Betty Radier, and Tourism Principal Secretary Joe Okudo.
The Kisumu County Assembly approved proposals allowing the county government to buy shares in the hotel worth Sh40 million.
This followed a resolution by county authorities to block attempts to demolish the hotel and build a modern five-star facility in its place.
Nyong’o said the hotel, whose current market value is Sh300 million, owes the county government Sh47 million in rates.
Sunset is among the facilities listed for transfer to the county government by TFC.
It has a panoramic view of Lake Victoria and overlooks the Kisumu Impala Sanctuary, which hosts the rare sitatunga antelope as well as big cats and buffaloes.
The park also has giraffes, cheetahs and several primate species besides being home to five campsites.
TFC recently warned investors against bidding for the development of the hotel engaged in a tussle with the county government.
Mr Orumoi termed an advertisement by the county calling for partnerships in redeveloping the hotel irregular.