Tourists are increasingly interacting with local communities and want to stay in places that impact On the environment, wildlife and the local population. Throughout Kenya, there is growing awareness of the benefits of community tourism projects.
Communities that have allowed access to their land have seen their lifestyles improve through increased revenue in form of wages, land leases and development funds.
Several eco-tourism projects have built boreholes, schools and clinics for local communities. Notable community tourism projects include Ngwesi and Tassia in Laikipia District, Sarara in Namunyak, Shompole in Magadi and Losikitok in Amboseli.
They range from complete community management to a partnership with an investor or trust that provides capital for building guest-houses and related facilities.
In most cases, the community provides land through a lease and ensures the protection of wildlife. Community members are employed and trained in the projects and get wages, development funds and involvement in spin-off enterprises. The community-based tourism concept is taking root and the Kenya Government has recognized the need to harness the product and market it in a more cohesive and systematic manner.
Preservation of the environment that supports tourism activities is not just for the benefit of foreign visitors. Eco-tourism involves more than preservation of wildlife for visitors. It also means protecting the country’s resources for the benefit of its people and wildlife
Eco-tourism and community wildlife and conservation ventures offer visitors rewarding wildlife experiences that give them the opportunity to enjoy and appreciate Kenya’s wildlife.
Productive eco-tourism envisages a practice that has no negative impact on eco systems, and which contributes to the preservation of the environment.
Kenya’s dedication to eco-values sets it apart as a country that values eco-tourism. Performance is gauged through the ‘eco-ratings’ scheme — a project of the Eco-Tourism Society of Kenya. This pioneer scheme accords hotels, lodges and camps the opportunity to apply for a special rating, which rates their level of eco-friendliness.
Community-based tourism and eco-tourism are growing globally. They account for five per cent of the global tourism market and growing at a rate of 20-30 per cent a year.