Kisumu County has allocated Sh25 million to tourism and listed the sector among its top priority areas.
Governor Jack Ranguma said that his office was in talks with prospective investors who intend to set up four-star hotels overlooking Lake Victoria.
“Land is a critical factor in investment. The county has started a hunt for consolidated pieces of land along Lake Victoria. Investors want 80 acres to set up hotels,” he said.
Mr Ranguma said that shortage of land was hurting tourism, adding that the municipality did not reserve land for future developments. The governor said that he had released “a four-tier development programme”, adding that hospitality will be a key focus sector.
“We are lucky to be bordering Lake Victoria which has massive potential for tourism. The problem has been lack of funds to jump-start investments. This will be sorted out by our budget allocation towards tourism,” said Mr Ranguma.
The county’s other areas of focus are agriculture, industrialisation and technology.
“We want Kisumu to be part of special economic zones but we are challenged as we don’t have enough land,” he said.
Mr Ranguma said that they plan to set up a technology platform to support tourism and urged stakeholders in the hotel industry to consider setting up ICT platforms which will add value to their business.
“We have not exploited competitive advantages brought about by computerised reservation systems that give the hotel industry an e-presence required in modern tourism business,” he said.
Lake Victoria Tourism Association (LVTA) CEO Antony Ochieng welcomed the move by the county government to allocate funds to the sector.
“Fundraising for conducting tourism activities has been a major challenge in our association. With support from the county government we are keen on doing more business to promote tourism in the region,” said Mr Ochieng.
He said that LVTA had programmed activities that will attract both domestic and international tourists to the region.
“Some of the activities are hosting beauty pageants where winners will become tourism ambassadors who will promote the sector in the Western circuit. We will also hold the Nyamgondho food and jazz festival in July, a cultural fete and tourism expo will be held in October, among others,” he said.
Mr Ranguma said that the Western circuit lacked platforms for promoting the region, adding that funding from the county will enable the association to publish a magazine which will highlight attractive sites in the region.
Kisumu Hotel Managers Association chairman Robinson Anyal expressed fear that hotels might miss out on gains of the peak tourism season which starts in July.
Mr Anyal said that low investment in the hotel industry was putting off visitors.
“We must acknowledge the fact that infrastructural growth in the hotel industry is not fully exploited,” said Mr Anyal.
He urged the county government to seek investors in the sector.
“With more investments we will be able to rival our brothers in other circuits in Kenya and the East Africa region,” said Mr Anyal.