Kilifi Governor Gideon Mung’aro has said his administration will build a sports complex and partner with the national government and investors to revive the county’s tourism sector.
He at the same time said his administration would sponsor a Bill in the County Assembly of Kilifi that would be seeking to create the Kilifi Tourism Board and hoped the proposal would get the nod of the Members of the County Assembly (MCA), who are yet to be sworn into office.
Mr. Mung’aro, who was inaugurated last week as the county’s new Chief Executive Officer, said the revival of the tourism sector in Kilifi was paramount as it would lead to the revival of the area’s economy, hence the need to promote local and international tourism through the beaches, marine national parks, sports and conferences.
The governor was speaking Sunday at the Malindi Gold Club at the close of the two-day Vasco da Gama Open Golf Tournament organised by the club in conjunction with the Kenya Golf Union and sponsored by the Family Bank Group among other organisations.
Mung’aro said it had been his desire to promote beach volleyball in Malindi, Kilifi and Watamu, adding that the 135-acre Malindi golf course could also be improved in order to host national and international events and thus attract tourists, both locally and internationally.
“Sports tourism is one of our target areas as we embark on reviving tourism in this region. That is why among the things you have seen in my manifesto is to build the Kilifi International Sports Complex so that we can promote tourism through sports nationally, regionally and internationally,” he said.
“One of things that we hope to do is partner with hoteliers. It is my hope that once the county assembly is opened, the MCAs will pass the Kilifi Tourism Board Bill into law so that we can have our own marketing strategies instead of relying on the National Government through the Kenya Tourism Board.
“We also intend to partner with hotels and see how we can promote conference tourism because that is what we are lacking,” Mung’aro said.
He expressed optimism that the expansion of the Malindi International Airport and the upgrading of the Mombasa-Malindi Road to a dual carriageway would boost the tourism sector as tourists would either land directly in Malindi or take a shorter time from the Moi International Airport in Mombasa to Malindi and Kilifi.
He said his administration would immediately embark on cleaning Malindi town, which was once declared the cleanest in East and Central Africa when Mung’aro was the Mayor of Malindi between years 2000 and 2002.
“We have started by ensuring that the street lights in Malindi are working and we hope to soon embark on the cleaning of Malindi town with a view to bringing the tourist hub back to its past glory, he said.
The chairman of the Kenya Golf Union, Mr. Njani Ndiritu said there was great potential for sport tourism in Kilifi after walking and laying in the Malindi Golf Course, which he noted had hosted the first ever KGU tournament for amateur golfers.
The chairman of the Malindi Gold Club, Mr. Tukero ole Kina, urged the Kilifi Government and other well-wishers to support the club in its quest to improve the golf club by increasing the number of holes from the current thirteen to eighteen in order to make it ready for national and international tournaments.
He said the club had managed to secure the course by fencing all the 135 acres and that efforts were being made to get permanent sources of water to irrigate it in order to make it conducive for competitions.
Among the participants during the tournament that began on Saturday and ended on Sunday was Mr. Wilfred Kiboro, the chairman of Family Bank and the Nation Media Groups, who also won an award.
The overall winner of the tournament was Mr. Michael Olunga from Uganda, who scored a gross of 146 followed by Isaac Makokha (147) and Sammy Mulama (155).
By Emmanuel Masha