Nakuru Hotels and Tourism Association is a membership body that brings together over 100 tourism stakeholders in the county.
The members cut across hotels, tour operators, boating and water sports actors, conservancy, tourism suppliers, among others. Its chairman spoke to Financial Standard about the sector’s prospects.
What are your main objectives?
We have three main objectives: marketing of Nakuru County as a tourist and tourism investment destination, capacity building in the tourism sector through the improvement of standards and service delivery.
Others are modernising our products and advocacy role on matters relating to tourism in Nakuru.
What plans have you put in place to achieve these targets?
We have come up with a calendar of events and activities aimed at promoting tourism and creating awareness of our products and services.
I have worked closely with the Kenya Utalii College who have extended annual refresher courses to Nakuru every two weeks in May where we train and graduate over 150 students each year.
On advocacy, I have put in place mechanisms to engage both the county and national government bodies to create a conducive and harmonious working environment.
What are your successes since coming into the office?
We have brought harmony in the sector where we now speak in one voice. This has made the association become an important stakeholder on tourism matters in this region. We have been able to showcase Nakuru as a destination locally, regionally and internationally.
Last year, we were recognised by the United Nations for successful celebrating World Tourism Day, where 68 exhibitors came to showcase tourism products and services to over 3,000 people in the one-day event at Lake Nakuru National Park.
Our flyer is still on The World Tourism Organisation website. We have also attracted more investors to Nakuru with four new hotels that have opened in the last year, becoming our active members and seeking our input on market dynamics. We have been invited to participate in almost all major tourism forums in this region.
What are the main challenges that the industry is facing?
There is a lack of proper industry knowledge among some investors including on standards, workforce, target client and pricing. This leads to poor planning or running of facilities.
Lack of resources to fully actualise our mandate and poor infrastructure towards tourism attraction areas.
What is the current state of affairs with respect to hospitality and tourism in Nakuru?
For the last few years, the industry has experienced growth with an increased number of visitors, be it MICE or adventure visitors.
Over the same period, we have seen over a dozen hotels open their doors and another dozen or so at different stages of construction.
What are the areas of improvement?
They include security where we are requesting the Government to deploy tourism police to this region.
We also request our stakeholders to embrace technology and training so as to improve the standards of our products and services.
Are you working closely with the County Government since tourism is devolved?
Yes, we are working closely with Governor Lee Kinyanjui, who has embraced tourism and made the department a key docket in the county government.
We are always in consultation with the county government on ways of improving and marketing tourism in Nakuru.
Do you receive cooperation from stakeholders?
We have always received cooperation but more can be done to bring in the required synergy. Nakuru is the best tourism county. We have the right people (cosmopolitan), weather (Lowest 11°c and highest 31°c), food sufficiency (10 per cent of national food basket), infrastructure includes standard gauge railway, upcoming airport, international transit road, good network connectivity.
This is in addition to flora - three national parks and six lakes, fauna including all the major wildlife including the rare pink flamingo), labour (educated, talented and multi-lingual workforce) among other factors.
Your last comment?
If you are thinking of a place to visit, invest or settle, think of Nakuru county. It is the county of love. No wonder 75 per cent of the roses come from this county.