Hoteliers in Western Kenya have united to woo investors to expand the industry in the region.
The area lacks enough hotels and conference facilities and is thus unable to host big events despite drawing a sizeable number of tourists owing to various attractions.
Under the Kakamega Forest Tourism Group, the hoteliers have also appealed to the region’s county governments to invest in the sector to boost economic growth.
“We have many events that can be hosted in this region but due to lack of enough facilities and accommodation they are hosted in regions like Nyanza and Coast,” said the group’s chairman William Owuya.
Speaking at Kakamega Western Star hotel, they said the region has a high demand for hospitality facilities.
“The county governments have neglected the sector yet it contributes to the economy of the region. They should support us by providing space and also construct five-star hotels and conference facilities,” said Rev Owuya.
He urged the devolved units to appoint some of the hoteliers to their tourism boards to offer technical guidance.
“When included on the boards, we will offer professional and informed advice on how to expand the industry to generate more income,” he said.
Michael Madaga, general manager of Malava Hotel urged tourists to consider Western Kenya as an alternative tourism destination.
He said despite some of the challenges facing the sector in the region, there have been significant improvement to attract tourists.
“Western is a home of many tourist attraction sites like the crying stone, Kakamega tropical forest, bullfighting and cultural activities. Hotels like Malava have improved to ensure they offer the best facilities to tourists who visit the region,” said Mr Madaga.
“We have tried to expand our facilities including modern conference facilities, swimming pool and spacious rooms at affordable rates but more should be done to increase our capacity.”
Kakamega Western Star Manager Geoffrey Lilechi said the industry is also faced with the challenge of few institutions to offer skilled training to staff in the industry.
He urged hotel owners to consider good remuneration for employees to boost their morale and also attract more qualified staff.
“We engage Utalii College to train some of our staff. We want more institutions to be started in this region so that we have enough manpower for the sector,” said Mr Lilechi.
He said investing in the sector will create employment opportunities to hundreds of youth in the region.
“We receive many applications for internship and employment but we do not have the capacity to hire all of them. We need to expand the sector to cater for the increased demand,” he said.