Tour Operators Making Money from Troubled Galana Kulalu Project

  • An aerial view of Galana Kulalu project
    An aerial view of Galana Kulalu project in the Coast Region.
    File
  • The Sh7 billion Galana-Kulalu irrigation scheme may have been written off by many Kenyans as a failed project, but some ingenious tour operators are reaping a profit from it. 

    Located along the tourism lucrative Tsavo East National Park corridor, tour operators have begun using the project to attract visitors. 

    Mr. Philomon Mwavala, the Kenya Coast Tourist Association (KCTA) board member who doubles up as the Southern Sky Safaris managing director said the strategic location of the food security project makes it a perfect destination for agricultural tourism.

    An inside look into Galana Kulalu Irrigation project
    An inside look into Galana Kulalu Irrigation project

    “We encourage people to come even for agriculture tourism and get first-hand information on what the government is planning on irrigation and food production.”

    Tourism takes many forms besides wildlife and beaches, as exhibited in many cities of the world. Alternative forms include sports tourism, conference tourism, agricultural tourism, and infrastructural tourism. 

    “We encourage people to come even for agriculture tourism and get first-hand information on what the government is planning on irrigation and food production.”

    The Galana-Kulalu food security project is a 10,000 acres model farm out of the 1.8million acres and uses River Galana for irrigation. It grows maize, cotton, mangoes, cashew nuts, citrus, pineapples, and banana.

    Camps adjacent to the irrigation project enjoy the waters of River Galana hereby enriching their tour experience with access to waterborne safari experiences and wildlife like hippos and crocodiles. 

    This offers facilities nearby the project with a more diverse tourism experience as compared to those in different geographical regions outside the coast. 

    Since the outbreak of Covid-19, tourism players have been reeling from a downward turn of fortunes. A ban on international flights coupled with lockdown and a variety of other Covid-19 prevention protocols led to decreased industry revenue. 

    Businesses have been forced to be innovative with many turning to local tourists to turn their tides economically.  

    Mwalava said that most tourism players have halved the price to woo domestic tourists and the improved infrastructure to the national parks has boosted the sector.

    “The tarmacking of the Malindi-Sala Gate road was timely and this is a major game-changer because we have clients who come only for game drives. The flora and fauna in Tsavo are different from those from places like Maasai Mara and the animals are good,” he said.

    President Uhuru Kenyatta irrigating the Galana Kulalu project
    President Uhuru Kenyatta irrigating the Galana Kulalu project