It is now official that Kenya will soon be getting 3 brand new cities in the coastal towns of Diani and Kilifi and Isiolo in the north by 2015. This is courtesy of a new ambitious initiative seeking to boost tourism in the country through the establishment of tourism resort cities.
Diani town is a major beach resort on Kenya’s Indian Ocean coast in Kwale County known for its coral reefs, black-and-white colobus monkeys and the Shimba Hills National Reserve. It is a popular destination for kitesurfing, skydiving, jet skiing and snorkeling and has been voted severally as Africa’s leading beach destination.
Kilifi, on the other hand, meeting point of luxury and rich heritage. From hosting some of the finest 4 and 5-star hotels in Kenya to being home to a huge number of national monuments including the ruins of Mnarani and Gede. Here, you find a cosmopolitan mix of doctors, sailors, backpackers, artists and aid workers either living, passing through or on holiday, enjoying eco-friendly living while sampling the town’s gorgeous beaches and an occasional whale shark.
Established as a centre for former Somali soldiers who fought in World War I as well as other Cushitic-speaking pastoral communities and the Ameru community, Isiolo is home to the Samburu and Shaba Game reserves, which have become preferred destinations after the famed Maasai Mara.
A lot of the inspiration for these resort cities is coming from Morocco who have had a tourism ministry since 1985. The country, which receives more than 8 million tourists annually, began a major project commissioned by King Mohammed VI and dubbed ‘Plan Azur’.
Plan Azur sought to set up 6 coastal resort cities for homeowners and tourists. 5 of these were to be located on the Atlantic coast and 1 on the Mediterranean. The idea was to grow annual visitation to 10 million tourists.
Plan Azur was also to include other large-scale development projects such as upgrading regional airports to attract budget airlines and building new train and road links. Three of these cities are already complete and in use.
Kenya will be seeking to learn how to develop low-cost accommodation facilities from the Moroccans which it hopes will appeal more to the domestic tourist market. There will be plans to explore golf tourism as an emerging niche in the country.
The construction of the 3 resort cities is expected to double annual visitor numbers currently at about 2 million. We cannot wait to see how these cities will look like. All we can say for now is watch this space, and let us all hope this is not just hot air to get us all excited.