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Government keen on diversifying Tourism Products

The Cabinet Secretary for Tourism, Wildlife and Heritage Peninah Malonza has said that the government will diversify tourism products to encourage tourists to explore more options other than the common wildlife and World Safari that has Marketed Kenya globally.

The CS urged Kenyans to value the range of millions of tourism products the country is bestowed with together with the tourism attractions sites located in various parts of the country.

Speaking in Kakamega during the close of a two weeks’ Western/Kisumu region refresher course for the hospitality industry, CS Malonza said unlike in the past when both local and international tourists enjoyed visiting the Coast and beaches, majority are now taking advantage of other attractions like Karura Forest, Kakamega Forest as the government opens up other areas like Agro-tourism, medical tourism, adventure tourism, sports tourism among other untapped tourism potential sites.

She said potential areas also include gastronomy which is about eating and drinking cuisines and food samples.

“Gastronomy is about eating and drinking our cuisines and our drinks and therefore we not only enjoy wine, I am looking forward to seeing the government regulate some of our local brews well because they make sense in our communities,” she noted.

Last Week, The Kenya Utalii College hosted the first gastronomy festival which aimed to place the country in the forefront in gastronomy tourism as the CS noted that today, the country has grown its niche of products targeting specific customer needs.

While appreciating Kakamega for hosting the refresher course, CS Malonza said the Hospitality and tourism industry within the western region has undergone a tremendous growth, with an increasing number of both local and international tourists who are choosing to visit the region to enjoy the diverse tourism products.

She urged the more than 147 graduates who completed the two weeks’ refresher course offered by the Kenya Utalii College to offer quality services and share the knowledge with their colleagues to promote the growth of the industry.

“I believe the county government will see a great change in the service provision by the hospitality and tourism practitioners who participated in this training. They will be more conscious of the customers’ needs and will aim to go above and beyond their expectations,” she added.

 “Today we are expecting quality and excellent customer service; this two weeks training has given you the skills and knowledge with which to guarantee excellence service delivery. One of the key strategies is the diversification of our products and services,” she noted.

She said the hospitality industry can no longer be undervalued, since even if sometimes they feel they are not making much impact in the world, the labor force that is looked for in the current world is the travel and hospitality industry.

“If you go outside the country, it is Kenyans who are serving in the hospitality industry and that is why Kenya Utalii College has partnered with a company in Europe, GR 8 to take more than 50 graduates from Utalii College to work in Europe,” she pointed out.

 The CS also said with the ripe sector, Investors who are going to lock their hands into the hospitality business, not only through big hotels but also restaurants and small cages in the streets will gather a lot contributing to the country’s wealth creation since it’s the sector that supports the value chain.

“The Hospitality Industry is focusing on the three Ps; the People By Job Creation, The Planet by taking care of our environment and the Profit that we make,” she said.

The CS urged the Western Region to also put more focus on the Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions (MICE) tourism as she promised to support establishment of a conference center in the region that will be used by leaders from the country as part of activating the Western Tourism circuit.

“We are looking forward to building a convention centre in Western Kenya so that when we bring international conferences they will not only go to Mombasa or  to Nairobi but they can make their way to Kakamega where they can enjoy all these beautiful forests and many attractions that you have,” Malonza pointed out.

Speaking on behalf of Kakamega Governor Fernandes Barasa, the County Secretary Dr. Bonface Okoth said Kakamega offers food and beverage and hospitality courses at entry level in county polytechnics and therefore an advanced training by Kenya Utalii College to the practitioners was an idea that is most welcome by the administration.

He said the county government will liaise with the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Heritage to train host communities in the county’s heritage sites.

Dr Okoth said the training needs include community tour guides, curators, site managers, entrepreneurial skills in ventures such as souvenir and courier business and provision of quality traditional croissants.

The County, he added, is also set to promote tourism and the hospitality sector through tourism product development by providing facilities, amenities, professional personnel and conservation initiatives to its six tourism gazette areas through the County Integrated Development Plan 2022-2027.

The Gazetted Tourism attraction sites spread across Kakamega County include Mawe Tatu in Likuyani Sub County, Mukai Stones and Caves in Malava Sub County, Kambiri Hills in Shinyalu Sub County, Misango Hills in Khwisero Sub County, Nabongo Shrines in Matungu and Mumias East Sub Counties.

“The aim is to secure recognition of these sites as national monuments and ultimately acquire global status as designated world intangible heritage sites under the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). These achievements will enhance the sites as visitor attraction and contribute to employing many of our people hence creating wealth by enhancing community livelihoods,” said the governor in a speech read on his behalf by the County Secretary.

He noted that Kakamega traditional cuisine is increasingly securing a growing demand among customers across the hospitality facilities in Kenya due to the increasing sensitivity to people’s health resulting from dietary or nutritional dictates.

“Today Kakamega county is Kenya’s hub of traditional foods with a rich dietary value Ugali from Sorghum, Millet and Cassava flour, Vegetables such as MirooChisakaOvyova and chiswa.

He says Umukombero, the bush detoxifying herb, naturally growing in Kakamega forest, is currently being domesticated.

By Moses Wekesa

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