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Western circuit set for surging tourist arrivals

By | November 29th 2009

By Anderson Ojwang

The Western Kenya Tourism Circuit is set for a revolution. This follows ongoing rehabilitation and subsequent elevation of Kisumu Airport into an international gateway.

The once sleepy region is also set to benefit from growing international media attention occasioned by the election of Barack Obama — whose father hails from the region — as the US President.

A growing hotel industry, recreational facilities and the Government move to build a heritage site in western Kenya have also served to enliven the region and stir its tourism potential.

The chairman of Western Kenya Tourism Circuit James Nyaundi says the region has got high potential, which should be developed.

"The improved road network has led to an upsurge in the number of tourists coming into the region," Nyaundi says.

He noted that there was growing hotel occupancy in western – a fact he says heralds the region as a notable tourist destination from both domestic and international visitors.

Nyaundi says several investors are putting up hotels to increase the bed occupancy in Kisumu, Kakamega, Kisii and Kericho in anticipation of surging tourist numbers as the region attracts more people.

"Central Organisation of Trade Unions (Cotu) is putting up a five-star hotel in Kisumu, with a bed capacity of 100 and conference facilities. This will transform the hotel industry," he says.

"There has also been remarkable improvement in the provision of water in Kisumu and a host of other towns, which has boosted the image of the region."

Nyaundi, who is also the manager of Kisumu Sunset Hotel, says the region has adequate hotel facilities — both high cost and low budget — to cater for domestic and international demand.

Home stays — a concept that allows tourists to stay with community members they visit -— is also fast gaining prominence.

"This helps to involve communities in the tourism business and ease a strain on housing," he says.

The chairperson of Domestic Tourism Association Anastasia Wakesho says Western has great potential as a tourism circuit.

"Many tourists are heading to Western because the region has rich cultures," she says.

Wakesho, who is the Managing Director of Karibu Paradise Safaris, says the completion of Obama Cultural Centre in Kogelo, Siaya District, would open up the circuit.

She says there is an upsurge in the number of domestic and international tourists visiting Kogelo, adding that creating new routes in the region are likely to boost the circuit, thus earning the country more revenue. She urged the Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) to earmark funds to market the circuit.

Bull fighting, Kit Mikayi, Ramogi View point, Kakamega forest, crying stones and Lambwe Park are among the region’s attractions that should be marketed.

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