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Government keen in promoting tourist destinations-CS

Tourism and Wildlife Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala has called on local and international tourists to visit Mt. Kenya as the government works towards making it one of the preferred hiking and mountaineering destinations in Africa.

Speaking to the media after Mt Kenya four-day climbing expedition, he noted that the government is committed to improving on tourists’ destinations that would attract local and international tourists.

“The Government has ensured that conservation is a key agenda in the tourism industry through putting in place policies that ensure the protection of resources such as Mount Kenya. This is my second time to climb the mountain and I urge everyone who has an eye for adventure to come here and experience for yourself,” said Balala.

The CS said Mt Kenya climbing was a worthwhile course and thanked the partners for supporting the initiative of promoting tourists’ destinations.

“We are finally back from the summit. We hiked all the way to the summit and can tell you it was not easy but it was very interesting,’’ said the CS.

CS Balala revealed he had unique experience in the Mt Kenya lakes on his four-day expedition for instance in Alice, Michaelson and Ellis.

“It has not been easy, but it has made me appreciate nature and our other God given resources. We want to leverage this hike to profile Mt Kenya as the ideal climbing destination and also grow the adventure market both locally and internationally,” said CS Balala.

The CS said together with partners, the government raised Sh10 million that would go towards improving facilities at the National park for good customers’ experience.

“I am delighted that this time round, we were able to bring partners on board to climb the mountain with the purpose of raising funds to improve amenities around the mountain. We have so far been able to mobilize around Sh10 million that will be utilized under the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) and we expect this to commence soon,” said the CS.

He said the money raised would be used to improve on hiking trails and other social amenities to be used by the mountain climbers.

Earlier in the month, CS Balala toured Mt Longonot as part of the preparations for the Mt Kenya expedition.

The CS noted that since the visit, Mt Longonot has registered an increase in tourists from the domestic market with the majority taking part in hiking.

The CS lauded James Kagambi, a mountain climber, for flying Kenyan flag on top of Mount Everest recently.

“There are good people who love climbing and we are proud of James and I congratulate him on behalf of the government,’’ said Balala.

Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) Director General John Waweru said that KWS was opening all the adventure parks by refurbishing and upgrading the visitor amenities in bid to enhance good experience.

Visa Kenya Country Manager Ms. Eva Sarwai speaking to KNA at Mt. Kenya National Park after a successful climb urged women to take part in mountain climbing noting there is no gender barrier in hiking.

“Sometimes, it felt like turning back, but with commitment to the course we made it to the mountain summit,” said Sarwai.

The Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife kicked off adventure, hiking, mountaineering experiences as some of the ways to revive the tourism industry in the country.

Mt Kenya is about 5,199 meters and the second highest peak in Africa, a key tourist attraction site.

Further, the mountain has three known peaks, Lenana, Nelion and Batian.

By Muturi Mwangi

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