WHY IS KENYAN TOURISM STRUGGLING?

PART ONE

Opinion by Justin Tuti

Why is Kenyan tourism struggling even before corona era? Many of you members said terrorism, insecurity, corruption, incompetence among others but on my side there’s a lot that I can criticise the government for not getting things right for better tourism performance in the country. This is my part one.

Let’s check WILDLIFE TOURISM. What’s the government’s effort in promoting wildlife tourism. We can say at least poaching is not that rampant like before. But there’s increased of human wildlife conflicts. Due to poor policies I can take for example in maasai regions or pastoral communities.

Lion attacks and kills cattle, the host community out of anger end up hunting down lions. I won’t say what happens but why would maasai go for lions? Because they know by the end the government will not compensation the lose. Unlike our neighbours Tanzania, The Tanzanian KWS known as TANAPA their compensation policies are good. Unlike Kenya maasais in Tanzania for example, they benefit a lot in wildlife tourism hence the host community have felt the importance of wildlife tourism hence helping in promoting to an extent of even raising alarm any poaching plans by poachers.

Photo file
Photo file

Due to land encroachment Nairobi national park and Amboseli have been shrinking over the years hence becoming a big threat to them.
I remember back in campus we were taught about Product promotion. We have oversold Wildlife tourism and Maasai Culture when it to Cultural tourism. There comes a time if we continue with this trend the international tourists will have no need to travel into the country since we have been selling the same product miaka nenda miaka rudi yet there are some national parks and reserves that offer different products but are untapped or ignored. The best example is Kakamega Forest whereby its only Rainforest Game Reserve in the country and offer different Wildlife tourism products or I can say diversed wildlife tourism products like Big Five Indegenous trees, Bird Watching, Canopy Walks, Trekking among other potential.

Let’s go to CULTURAL TOURISM. They say Kenya is a country of diverse culture but to my opinion, if that’s the case why concentrate much on Maasai Culture. Due to poor policies infact they don’t benefit as it deserves to be. The ministry should consider other cultures and package it better for tourism.

I remember my Cultural Tourism lecture used to emphasise much in Bullfighting culture in Western Kenya, Circumcision ceremonies, which have got uniqueness from other regions of the continent.

Uganda are doing better in Tourism because they have invested more in Cultural and Heritage tourism. In Kenya we are yet to have even a National dress like Nigeria and Uganda and South Africa for example. Yet we wanna compete them in cultural tourism. Irony comes in whereby countries in North Africa best example Egypt they sell a dead culture and they earn big. Thanks to devolution each and every county have come up with a Cultural Tourism Product to be packaged but I feel KTB has much to do to help in promoting them.

Bad politics has been the problem too. Case study is Kakamega County. Back in 2015, my classmate was on internship programme at the Ministry of Tourism in Kakamega County. During her presentation she talked about the plans of Kakamega County government in fencing Kakamega Forest but the then senator due to rivalry with the governor started to incite the host community the governor wants to grab the land. Same as the place where the crying stone is.

She said that they were literally chased as they were told the governor wants to grab the land. In 2016 at KTB offices in Upper Hill Nairobi they said that they experienced the same when they visited the place.
In my part 2 I’ll talk of Sports Tourism, MICE Tourism, CBT and infrastructure.

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