The Tourism Fund will from next year liaise with other tourism sectors to start marketing Elgeyo Marakwet county as one of Kenya’s unique tourism products.
The board chairman Alphonse Kioko said that all government agencies in the tourism sector would converge in the area next year to develop the county’s tourism product for onward marketing by the Tourism Board of Kenya.
Speaking when the board paid a courtesy call to the County Governor Mr. Alex Tolgos in his office, Kioko said the county is unique since it combines a mix of sports and actual tourism into one product.
“In this county we have athletics tourism, paragliding and the spectacular landscape of the Kerio escarpment which visitors come to view,” he said.
The chairman said the covid-19 pandemic was a huge lesson to the country over its reliance in one tourism product and therefore the need to diversify.
“Our traditional tourism products took a hit and we ne need to diversify so that new products will in future plug the gaps occasioned by uncertainties like Covid 19,” he said.
The governor said the county was making efforts to ensure that it has world class tourism facilities saying Iten town had an ambitious programme to modernize it to a world class metropolis which was being supported by the British government.
He therefore called on the Tourism Fund to sensitize the locals on their loan products so that they can access funds to set up tourism related business to tap into the upcoming opportunities.
“One of the business the locals can invest in is accommodation facilities as in the past tourists have been forced to seek accommodation in Eldoret due to lack of modern hospitality facilities,” the governor said.
He also called on the fund to support the county in realizing its dream to have a cable car, which will transport tourists from the highlands through the escarpment to the valley saying it will be an addition to the tourism products the county has to offer.
Kioko said the cable car project was feasible and promised that the board would float the opportunity to its private sector partners in a bid to initiate a public private partnership model for the project.
He added that the fund was willing to fund tourism stakeholder sensitization forums in the county as well as an investor roundtable to market the opportunities in the county.
The visit by the fund is part of the initiatives promised by Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala who in his previous visit to the North Rift region said he would be sending a high powered delegation from his ministry to promote tourism in the area.
By Alice Wanjiru