18 December 2005

Kenya Gets 'Largest' Ice Skating Rink

Nairobi — A Sh50 million ice skating facility to promote tourism was launched at the Panari Hotel in Nairobi.

The facility, which measures 15,000 square feet and can accommodate 200 people skiing in one direction, is the largest in Africa.

Nairobi becomes the third country after Egypt and South Africa to offer ice skating as a sport in Africa.

Speaking during the official launch on Friday night, Tourism and Wildlife minister Morris Dzoro told the Sunday Nation that the government was committed to promoting new investments to help attract more tourists into the country.

"This is the largest single facility of its kind on the continent and can be ranked at the same level with those in Europe. There are only two such facilities in Africa and I'm glad we have realised the Kenyan dream of being the first to offer ice skating as a sport in East and Central Africa," Mr Dzoro said.

"We are encouraging investors to come and put up new and innovative facilities that will attract more visitors into the country now that tourism is picking up. This new facility is one such and will offer a variety that will attract huge numbers." the minister said.

The Managing Director of Panari Hotel, Mr Sigi Loeper said, he had been motivated to promote the sport as a tourist attraction in order to keep young people from engaging in drug abuse and other vices.

"Ice Skating is common in Europe during the winter season. In Africa we do not have such a sport and that is why we have decided to pick this as a new product to promote tourism in Kenya.

Mr Loeper said there were trainers at the facility but later the hotel will bring in specialists to train and promote Ice hockey.

Mr Kishore Reddy, the director of North Star Cooling Systems, which has installed the facility, told the Sunday Nation it will require maintenance through out the day to prevent the ice from melting.

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