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Homa Bay embarks on aggressive marketing of tourist attractions

The County Government of Homa Bay has embarked on an aggressive marketing of its tourism attractions in a bid to turn around the local economy.

Governor Gladys Wanga said one way of achieving this was through promotion of sports tourism to market its numerous tourist attraction gems.

She said her government has organised a half marathon that will take place on 5th and 6th as it seeks to promote tourism activities and conserve the roan antelope.

The two days’ event will be held at Ruma National Park which is home to the only 25 roan antelopes in the country.

“The decision of hosting the event at the park is significant because it will be used in the conservation efforts of the game park and its animals,” Wanga said.

The Governor who will be among the participants in the event urged the locals to register in large numbers for the race.

“It is a run for fun, for conservation and protection of the animal. The marathon will also enable us to showcase some of the hidden beauties of our county,” she said.

The Governor urged the corporates to support the event adding that renowned athletes had registered for the race.

The devolved unit has partnered with Athletics Kenya in organizing the event dubbed “Run with the roans. Athletics Kenya will give awards to winners. We invite everyone to come to enjoy the beauties that we have,” the Governor said.

The County boss also challenged travel agents to take advantage of the opportunity to earn from the park.

“This is a rare gem to bring visitors. Stakeholders in the tourism sector should therefore take advantage of the opportunity,” she said, adding that organizers of the marathon have agreed to make the race an annual event.

Ruma National Park’s Assistant Director David Oyugi expressed hopes that the event will assist in marketing the park which in turn will increase revenue collected by Kenya Wildlife Service.

Ruma Park recorded the highest annual visit in 2019 when 5333 tourists toured the game park.

Oyugi said 4872 people visited the park last year which was comparatively low compared with other national parks in the country.

“The sporting events will help in conservation efforts to protect the roan which is one of the main tourist attractions. We hope to set up good infrastructure for monitoring the animal,” Mr Oyugi said.

Besides the roan antelope, Ruma National Park has other animals like black and white rhinos, nubian giraffe, reptiles, buffalos, oribis among others.

Oyugi disclosed that 33 nubian giraffes were introduced in the park in 1983 and the number has grown to over 550 today.

The park also has 400 species of birds making it one of the bird watching sites in the country.

All the animals face threats from prolonged drought, human wildlife conflict, frequent wildfires, bushmeat hunting and fence vandalism.

Homa Bay County Assembly Speaker Julius Gaya and the County Executive Committee Member for Tourism Polycap Okombo appealed to county residents to visit the park to see the animals and promote conservation efforts.

Mr Okombo said his department will continue using sports activities to enhance conservation and spur economic growth.

“If we boost visits to the park, the community around the park will be empowered. Local businesses will grow as they get ready market for goods and services,” he said.

Mr Okombo expressed optimism that the inaugural marathon will be successful and attract more visitors to the park.

By Davis Langat

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