First World War 100th memorial to be held in Taita

Taita Taveta Governor John Mruttu (left) receives a Sh200,000 donation from Kenya Association of Hotelkeepers and Caterers chairman Jaideep Vohra (right). The money was donated by Sarova Whitesands to the World War 1 Commemoration kitty on July 21, 2014. PHOTO | KEVIN ODIT

What you need to know:

  • The commemoration will be held in Taita Taveta County in August 2014.
  • Most of the participating countries are from Europe.
  • The battlefields in Taita Taveta will be unveiled as an international tourist product.
  • Embassies expected to participate include the United Kingdom, the US, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Poland and Turkey.

At least 25 countries are expected to participate in the First World War 100th year commemoration in Taita Taveta County in August 2014.

Most of the participating countries are from Europe.

The celebrations in which the United States will also participate are expected to give the county’s economy a shot in the arm.

Taita Taveta boasts of the country’s top parks, the Tsavo East and West national parks.

The celebrations will mark a century since the First World War broke out in August 1914 between the British and the Germans.

Some areas of the county such as Mwakitau and Taveta were turned into battlefields as the British in Kenya fought against the Germans who were camped in the neighbouring Tanzania.

TAITA BATTLEFIELDS

During the event, the battlefields in Taita Taveta will be unveiled as an international tourist product.

This is expected to help attract holidaymakers from across the world.

The Kenya Association of Hotelkeepers and Caterers (KAHC) Tsavo and Amboseli branch chairman Willie Mwadilo says 25 foreign embassies have confirmed their participation in the ww1 commemoration.

The embassies expected to participate in the event include the United Kingdom, the US, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Poland and Turkey.

He noted that about 300 international guests and 300 local dignitaries are also expected to attend the event.

“On August 29, Taita Taveta County will be marking the 100th year since the First World War broke out in 1914,” he said.

“We plan to introduce the First World War battlefields in Taveta as a premier tourist product and shift the overreliance on the wildlife in the Tsavo as the only tourist attraction here,” he explained.

INTERNATIONAL BOOKINGS

Mr Mwadilo who is also the general manager of Sarova Salt Lick and Taita Lodges said the event had attracted international bookings from the west.

Visitors and locals who will attend the war commemoration will be taken through tours of the Taveta battlefields.

The hotelier said the new tourist product would create jobs for the youth as they would play the role of battlefields tour guides.

The product, he added, would also be a new source of revenue for the county as both local and international tourists will tour the historical war areas.

Tourists, he said, would also be taken through a museum at Sarova Taita where they would see some collections from the war which began in 1914 and ended in November 1918.

Taita Taveta governor John Mruttu said the First World War battlefields would be marketed in both traditional and emerging source markets to help revive the ailing tourism sector.

Mr Mruttu added that it was time the country identified new tourist products rather than depending on the beaches and wildlife.

The governor said the battlefields in Taveta had the potential to attract tourists from around the world since it was a worldwide war.

“The descendants of the British and Germans who fought in the First World War will be interested in seeing the battlefields in Taveta,” he said.

STUDENT VISITS

“Kenyans including university and secondary school students will also be coming here to see the historical war sites,” he explained.

The governor made the remarks at Sarova Whitesands Beach Resort in Mombasa after he had received a Sh200,000 cheque from Sarova Hotels managing director Jaideep Vohra in support of the war commemoration event.

Domestic Tourism Association chairperson Anastanzia Wakesho said marketing campaigns were underway to attract Kenyans to the historical battlefields in Taveta.

Ms Wakesho called on tourism players to offer local tourists affordable holiday packages to improve hotel occupancy.

Domestic tourism, she said, could turn around the sector, adding that many Kenyans out there could go on holiday if they were motivated by affordable holiday packages.

“In the backdrop of the tourism downturn, it is time the players in the industry prioritised on the domestic market,” she said.

“This is the opportune time for hotel owners to offer locals special holiday packages to help fill up the empty beds,” she added.

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