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Kenya is positioning its North Eastern region as the next tourism frontier, hoping to leverage on astro-tourism, Lake Turkana, national parks and the archaeological sites in the region.
According to the Kenya Tourist Board officials, the hybrid solar eclipse to be viewed on November 3 from the Sibiloi National Park marks the beginning of a robust tourism venture into a region that has been neglected for decades.
“We will continuously market North Eastern even after the solar eclipse to ensure that the unique sites keep attracting tourists throughout the year,” said Muriithi Ndegwa, managing director of the Kenya Tourism Board.
He added it was hard to estimate how much the eclipse would rake in, because tour agencies were selling different packages ranging from a one day stay up to 10 days.
In Uganda over 700 international visitors and 3,000 domestic tourists are expected to witnesses the historic event at Owiny Primary School in Nebbi, Northen Uganda. According to a paper presented to Cabinet by the Tourism Minister Maria Mutagamba, the international visitors are expected to generate $568,400 on November 3.
The event, which last happened in 1973, is expected to attract at least 5,000 local, regional and international tourists, compared with 2,000 in 1973 in Kenya.
Air charter operators, tour companies and hotel owners have been receiving an overwhelming response from international tourists.
Kenya Wildlife officials in charge of the area said Kenyan citizens and EAC residents (adults) will pay Ksh200 ($2.3) and Ksh100 ($1) for kids, whereas adult residents will pay 500 ($5.8). Non-residents will pay $25. Usage of the special exclusive camp site will cost Ksh50,000 ($581).
Astro-tourism was identified by Euromonitor as a World Travel Trend. Some destinations such as Australia and Chile have established a huge market share in astro-tourism, and earn vast revenues annually, with Kenya hoping to follow suit.
Nomalotunga and Nariokotome sites, known for discovery of skeletons that can help trace the origin of mankind, the Sibiloi National Park, by the shores of the Lake Turkana, are among sites that have not been appropriately marketed.
According to Hassan Wario, Kenya’s Sports, Arts and Culture Cabinet Secretary, North Eastern has been portrayed in a negative way over the years scaring away investors and tourists.
In 2012, Mwai Kibaki, Kenya’s former president, launched the construction of a Ksh15 billion ($170 million) Turbi-Moyale road in Moyale County, the last Kenyan section of the Trans-Africa Highway Corridor.
The 122 km road section is the third phase of the Isiolo-Moyale road corridor being upgraded to bitumen standards by the government with support from the African Development Bank.
– Business Daily