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Investors offered 13 new sites for building top Lodges

Date Published: 29 Jul, 2010
Investors offered 13 new sites for building top Lodges

Standing desolate is the vandalised man-eaters highway motel near the Tsavo West National Park main gate. Built by a former Tourism minister, it's one of the 13 sites KWS has offered for local and international investment. Photo Courtesy: George Kebaso

The Kenya Wildlife Service is offering local and international investors 13 new sites for building lodges in the expansive and popular destination Tsavo Conservation Area. The Service has advertised for Expression of nterest for lease, development and operation of tourist accommodation facilities in three national parks in this area. The construction of the high quality lodges and permanent luxury tented camps in low use and wilderness activity areas of Tsavo East, Tsavo West and Chyulu National Parks is part of Kenya’s Vision 2030 development plan.
The offer, expected to realise an additional 422 beds in the three parks is open to experienced local and international tourism investors. The lucrative investment opportunity is the first phase of a 10-year management plan that seeks to diversify

Tsavo’s tourist experience by promoting investment in low volume, high value tourism in the conservation area’s low use and wilderness areas. The plan further proposes to develop tourist products that appeal to different market segments and provide a high quality, low environmental impact visitor experience. Despite the Tsavo area having 2,796 permanent beds, most of which are in high use zones of Mzima Springs, Kamboyo and Voi, 70 per cent of the conservation area remains underutilised. To enhance the value of the sites for investment, KWS plans to improve accessibility and security presence. The Vision 2030 blueprint’s underutilised parks initiative provides for expansion of bed capacity, opening up of
less visited parks and increasing visitation to 3 million tourists by 2012. This initiative targets various national parks, including Meru, Mt Kenya, Tsavo East, Tsavo West, Ruma and Mt Elgon.


The development of high-end visitor facilities is part of the strategic positioning of Kenya’s tourism sector to tap into the World Tourism Organisation projected 1.6 billion international tourist arrivals by 2020. Currently, during peak tourism, bed occupancy levels are close to full occupancy at 92 per cent. Additional numbers can only be accommodated if Kenya increases the bed capacity.

The Tsavo Conservation Area (TCA) consists of Tsavo East National Park 13,747 km2, Tsavo West National Park 7,065 km2, and Chyulu Hills National Park -700 km2. TCA is the tourism flagship of Kenya Wildlife Service’s protected areas and offers a distinctive visitor experience that capitalises on its exceptional resource values. The Conservation Area is known for its sheer size as Kenya’s largest Protected Areas complex (covering approximately 4 per cent of the country’s landmass). It boasts of a variety of ecosystems, biodiversity and natural habitats and is home to a high number of endangered species most notably the country’s largest elephant population, black rhinos, hirola and Grevy’s zebra. In terms of scenic beauty, Tsavo is famed for its diverse landscapes and scenery, untamed wilderness and magnificent volcanic features. History of the conservation area, including exploits of the early European explorers, the Man-eaters lions and railway construction has been subject of world renowned documentaries and films.

Tsavo accounts for over 20 per cent of average annual visitation into KWS parks. The coastal resorts, with its large pool of tourists seeking alternative activities to beach holidays, generate most visitors to Tsavo. The area is well integrated with inland tourist circuits and provides a favoured destination for wildlife related tourist activities. Currently, the Conservation Area has well-developed tourist infrastructure albeit spatially restricted in the High Use zone of Mzima, Kamboyo and Voi representing only about 30 per cent of the total conservation area’s land. A total of 2,796 permanent beds are available (this includes privately operated tented camps, Ecolodges, bandas and lodges). However, 64 per cent of these are found outside the protected area boundaries. Density of tourism infrastructure and facilities within just a portion of the Parks coupled with visitor concentration threatens the authenticity and quality of the parks’ tourist product and also limits realization of the entire conservation area’s tourism potential.

About 70 per cent of the conservation area remains underutilized.There is scope for development of additional bed capacity within the conservation Area’s Limits of Acceptable Use. However, further development in the High Use Zones will not be allowed.KWS has put together a comprehensive management plan for the Conservation Area. The 10-year plan to be implemented between the years 2008 to 2018 is a result of a consultative planning process under the Protected Area Planning Framework, which involved input from a cross section of stakeholders, Park management, and planning expert teams. The plan proposes a Tourism Management and Development Program whose aim is to ensure that the “Tsavo Conservation Area’s position as a premier tourist destination is maintained and enhanced” In addition to managing traditional vehicle-based tourist activities in the high use area, the plan proposes to diversify Tsavo’s tourist experience by promoting investment in low volume, high value tourism in the conservation area’s low use and wilderness areas. The plan further proposes to develop tourist products that appeal to different market segments and provide a high quality-low impact visitor experience.


In the plan’s implementation, KWS intends to offer new sites for development of high quality tourist accommodation facilities in the low use and wilderness activity areas of the TCA. To prop up the sites for investment, KWS will in the plan’s life enhance their management and administrationsystems. Roads, bridges, security and management presence will be put in place to promote accessibility and use of the areas. KWS has identified 13 sites for development of permanent luxury tented camps and eco-lodges within Tsavo East, Tsavo West and Chyulu Hills National Parks. In this first phase of the area’s development, KWS expects to realise an additional 422 beds through private investment. The 13 sites are distributed throughout the low use and wilderness areas of the conservation area. In Tsavo East National Parks’ Emusaya wilderness area 64 beds are planned; 70 beds in the Ithumba low use area; 102 and 84 beds in Tsavo West’s Low use areas of Murka and Jipe respectively and 102 beds in Chyulu Hills Low use areas. KWS wishes to invite private sector investors to partner with it in developing top-market tourist accommodation facilities in the Tsavo’s low use and wilderness areas. This is a lucrative commercial opportunity for both KWS and the private sector partners. It is expected that, these developments will leverage on the opportunity to create a diversified tourist product that will be easily integrated into, complement and enrich the already popular Tsavo tourist circuit.


KWS shall invite ‘Expressions of Interest’ for lease and development of the sites detailed herein through an open tendering process.
 

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