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Tourist traffic to Thimlich soars after Unesco recognition

The number of tourists visiting ThimlichOhinga, historical site in Migori County is steadily rising following its classification by United Nations, Scientific and Cultural Organisation as a World Heritage site late 2018.
According to the site, Curator Kelvin Somoire, the visitors recorded during the month of December 2018 hit the record of 70 with subsequent months showing a steady rise.
Somoire admitted that ThimlichOhinga the little known treasure of Migori County found in Nyatike Sub County is experiencing a positive trend after Unesco recognised it as a world Heritage destination.
Before the classification, the site recorded zero visitors in some months a situation which has completely changed since UNESCO’s note.
“We have opened a Face Book page to popularize ThimlichOhinga and I am now happy to report that hundreds of followers have admitted the uniqueness of ThimlichOhinga after seeing our shared photos,” says Kelvin.
He says they are keen to use other social media networks such as, Instagram and Twitter accounts to show the world how stone laying art was used for protection among other cultural uses during mid of 14th Century.
Kelvin reveals of plans to reach schools and colleges so that they can visit the site for learning purposes.
Apart from the wonders of skilful fortified laid stones, Kelvin hints that ThimlichOhinga has rare species of plants, birds and even insects not found in any part of the county and beyond.
He reveals that students, teachers of History and Geography can exploit this opportunity and learn how communities living around ThimlichOhinga designed a fortified stone wall for various cultural purposes apart from protection.
Kelvin however agrees that there is dire need to construct a modern road to the site and also supply of electricity.
Migori County Government, Director Trade and Tourism Daudi Obado say National and County Governments have agreed to work together towards upgrading the site to international standards.
He says County Government will set aside funds in the next financial year which will be used for the purpose of improving the historical site.
Obado reveals that connecting electricity to the site is a priority for the County government. He says they have also considered tarmacking the road to the site and also sinking boreholes to ensure constant supply of water.
The Director says the National Museum team while visiting the county early last week agreed together with County Government of Migori on the way they can secure a buffer zone land surrounding the site.
“Buying the land surrounding ThimlichOhinga is the only sure way of securing buffer zone,” says Obado.
Obado however tasked National Museum to finish proposed Site Master Plan which will guide projects positioning without interfering with stone-built ruins preserved history.
According to the national standardisation and classification of hotels by the Kenya Tourism Board there is no star rated hotel in Migori County.
This now calls for those interested in investing in hospitality to upgrade their hotels to accommodate international visitors who would visit ThimlichOhinga and other historical sites within Migori County.
Migori County Government together with Unesco are planning to celebrate ThimlichOhinga listing as a World Heritage Sitein April. The Day will be used as an opportunity to open the site both to local and international tourists.
By Geoffrey Satia

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