Tourism sector players in Mount Kenya region in central Kenya have been urged to upgrade facilities to attract and accommodate a larger number of tourists expected following the listing of Africa's second tallest mountain as among the top 52 places to visit in 2020 by the New York Times.
The US newspaper ranked Mt Kenya in position 40, saying is it is an attraction site due to being one of the world’s last remaining tropical glaciers.
According to the Kenya Association of Hotelkeepers (KAHC) chairman of Mt Kenya region Edward Wangechi, the ranking offers a great opportunity for investors to put more effort in the hospitality industry.
“Investors in the hospitality industry should now upgrade their facilities to attract and accommodate the large number of tourists expected,” Mr Wangechi said.
The KAHC official also urged hoteliers in the region to engage professionals while putting up hotels.
“Most of the hotels in the region fail because investors don’t consult professionals in the hospitality industry on how to go about it. For example, ones’ choice of location determines what kind of recreational facility to come up with,” Mr Wangechi said.
According to Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), Mt Kenya had 25,000 visitors last year, a 3.8 percent drop from the 26,000 hikers in 2018. 15,000 visited the mountain in 2017.
Mount Kenya National Park Senior Warden Isaac Mugo attributed the drop to bad weather which discouraged tourists from engaging in any mountaineering activities.
“Last year there were heavy rains that prevented mountaineers and hikers from engaging in any rock climbing activity,” he said.
Mr Mugo said the mountain's physical geography and location—near the Equator and accessible from different routes in central Kenya makes its a place of interest.
“The mountain is mostly preferred to by tourists because its rocky, therefore making it very adventurous for hikers. Tourists also love the fact that they can use routes in different counties to climb up and down the mountain,” the KWS officer said.
Nyeri ecosystem conservator Moses Wahome said that the unique tree species found in Mount Kenya National Park also attracts tourists interested in learning about the environment.
Nyeri County Tourism Executive Diana Kendi said all the six counties—Nyeri, Meru, Embu, Laikipia, Kirinyaga, and Tharaka Nithi—which the mountain straddles should take full advantage of the resource.
“We can get a lot of revenue if we all pull resources together as counties to ensure that we get the maximum benefit from it,” she said.
The polling by the New York Times was arrived at following four months of research, discussion and debate involving regular contributors, domestic correspondents and the Times foreign correspondents.
The mountain is ranked number 40 behind Caesarea in Egypt (10), Lesotho (12), Egypt (17), Uganda (30). Ethiopia is ranked 49th, making the fifth African destination in the list.