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How Taita Taveta is using mining to attract tourists

Taita-Taveta mining site

It has been dubbed as the county of great opportunities. Taita Taveta boasts of the great Tsavo East and West National Parks that are home to a wide variety of wild animals including the big five.

County Executive in-charge of Tourism, Wildlife and Natural Resources, Alexander Kubo Mwangeka said the county is diversifying its tourism products to help attract more visitors. “We are keen to tap into sports tourism by attracting investors to set up training facilities as well as new hotels in places that have not been opened up to mass tourism,” he said.

Mwangeka named Lake Jipe, which is an inter-territorial lake straddling the borders of Kenya and Tanzania where water sports activities could be developed to tap into its beautiful scenery and abundant wildlife and natural attractions. There are also plans to have an annual marathon around the Lake and invite star marathoners to compete at the event.

“This could help raise the profile of the area to attract investors,” Mwangeka said. He added that they are also looking at how best to tap into mining tourism since the county is home to some of the largest deposits of gemstones. “Close to 70 per cent of gemstones/precious stones deposits are found in the county,” Mwangeka said.

He noted that in its Strategic Investment Plan 2015-2020 initiated by Governor Eng John Mtuta Mruttu, the county envisages the establishment of a Gemstones processing factory and showroom at a cost of $775,000 (Sh79.5 million) through a Private Public Partnership (PPP) plan. The project will comprise of a centre for adding value to the county’s mineral wealth by cutting and polishing gemstones to a high standard for sale both locally and for the export market.

Cultural tourism

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Mwangeka said the current estimates indicate that Taita Taveta County is one of the leading producers of minerals in Kenya.

The geology of the county falls into two main categories — the Mozambique belt and the Tertiary Volcanic belt. “Many tourists who visit the county for wildlife and battlefield tourism could be encouraged to visit the mines and sample minerals that are in plenty,” Mwangeka said.

He said the mining industry in Taita Taveta is booming with investment opportunities in exploration and expanding the existing mines. He adds the county government hopes to develop cultural tourism.

“Here, we hope to set up a cultural facility within Voi town where artisans and crafters will be producing souvenirs and other products with traditional and cultural themes for sale to visitors and tourists alike,” he said. On his part, Governor Mruttu said Taita Taveta is potential investment hub.

He said improved infrastructure such as the Standard Gauge Railway and Voi- Taveta Road has helped expand the market across the borders to Northern Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi.

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