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The Tourism industry in Kenya operates within a liberalized economic environment that is characterised by active partnership between the Government and the private sector. While the private sector is expected to be the motive force, the Ministry of Tourism is charged with the responsibility of formulation and implementation of policies a kin to tourism as well as co-ordination of planning, development, promotion and marketing of tourism. The functions of the Government may be summarized as follows:- (i) Formulation and implementation of general policy guidelines for the tourism industry;
(ii) Setting the required targets such as:- – increasing the contribution of the sector to the National Gross Domestic Product, through increased foreign exchange earnings and retention from the sector; – increase the sector’s employment generating capacity. – conserving and protecting the environment; – diversification of the tourism product range and source markets; – developing sustainable tourism; and – the development of all facets of tourism. (iii) Planning, development and regulation of tourism activities;
(iv) Licencing, classifying and upholding the quality of tourism facilities and services; (v) Co-ordination and Consultation with other government Ministries and departments in order to facilitate tourism development by providing the necessary enabling environment; (vi) The Ministry has also the responsibility of overseeing the operations of such State Corporations as:- The Kenya Tourism Development Corporation, which lends to and advises investors in the tourism industry. The Kenya Utalii College which trains all cadres of manpower for the hotel and tourism sub sectors.
The Catering Levy Trustee, which collects training levy on the sale of food, drinks and accommodation for purposes of funding training programmes for the hotel and tourism sub-sectors. The Bomas of Kenya which is the national conservatory of Kenya’s diverse cultural heritage where traditional rituals, dance and music are performed for the benefit of both visitors and the local people. The Kenya Tourist Board which is charged with promotion and marketing of the destination both locally and internationally.
The Kenya Wildlife Service which is not an integral part of the Ministry of Tourism, is vested with the responsibility of conservation and management of wildlife, and the maintenance of infrastructure, within the National Parks and Game Reserves. (vii) The Ministry co-ordinates Kenya’s Tourism Promotion worldwide; and (viii) Co-ordinates bilateral and multilateral relations in tourism with other Governments, Non-governmental Organisations as well as other Donor Agencies. In addition, the Government provides such basic infrastructure for tourism development, as roads, educational programmes and the requisite security.
It should also be noted that the Government is responsible for demarcating, protecting and gazetting all protected areas. COUNTY COUNCILS Most areas and communities where tourism is developed are under the authority of local County Councils. These Councils therefore play an important role in tourism development and are responsible for the following:- provision of incentives for tourism investment and management as well as provision of the requisite amenities for tourism development; development of visitor management systems through zoning and land use policies aimed at securing participation by the local communities;
Formulation and implementation of enforcement programmes pertaining to proper and ethical use of protected areas; investing in improved tourism infrastructure such as roads and rural electrification; developing consistent concession policies which are meant to enhance visitor management within the National Parks and Game Reserves; liaising with communities on development projects to be funded by the tourism sector. (c) The Kenya Wildlife Service: The organisation is important since it is the primary custodian of the country’s flora and fauna.
Its active participation has ensured reasonable resolution of human/wildlife conflict. However a lot remains to be done in this area. (d) The National Environmental Secretariat: The Secretariat co-ordinates the activities of the various Non-Government Environmental Organisations. Its contribution is important in the provision of vital environmental data and guidelines as required by the key players in the development of eco-tourism as and when required by the key players. (e) The Eco-tourism society of Kenya: This is a voluntary association of individuals and corporate bodies with mutual interest in tourism.
It provides a platform for the resolutions of conflicts pertaining to conservation and the operations of tourism industry through:- bringing together commercial, conservation and the local communities interested in sustainable tourism development; promoting responsible and sustainable tourism; protecting the integrity of the natural and cultural attractions which are the bedrock of the industry.
The Eco-tourism society of Kenya and it’s members aim at improving and promoting the image an ideal eco-tourism Kenya as a tourist destination by:-(i) Fostering tourism practices which can contribute to the conservation of Kenya’s natural environment and thereby improve the lives of the communities living in close proximity to the protected areas; (ii) Developing suitable framework of Environmental Management standards relating to both tourist attractions and facilities; (iii) Devising and publishing eco-tourism regulations and codes of conduct; (iv) Increasing environmental awareness as well as developing strategies appropriate to mitigate negative ecological, cultural, social and economic impact of tourism;
(v) Carrying out empirical research and pilot tests relating to new approaches and initiation and promoting projects which conform to the dictates of eco-tourism; (vi) Providing professional, advisory and consultancy services in policy, formulation research, planning and management of eco-tourism; (vii) Participation in relevant educational and training programmes as well as developing professional standards, certification and licensing systems that are in sync with Eco-tourism. (f). INDIVIDUAL AND GROUP WILDLIFE SANCTUARIES.
In Kenya both individuals and groups are encouraged to host wildlife on their lands under the Kenya Wildlife Service Programme known as “Winning space for Wildlife”. When Promoted hand in hand with nature based tourism, the programme enhances conservation and also ploughs back benefits to the host community. Other features of “Winning Space for Wildlife” programme include non-interference with land ownership and such other traditional economic activities as crop farming. (g). NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANISATIONS (NGO).
There is a large number of resident conservation oriented Non-Governmental organizations which promote eco-tourism through: (i) Public education on conservation (ii) Developmental studies, position papers and codes for sustainable use of natural resources (iii) Publication of tourist information literature. (iv) Organizing annual workshops on conservation and environmental management. (v) Organizing seminars and workshops to promote community input into the management of nature and cultural tourism.
THE KENYA ASSOCIATION OF TOUR OPERATORS (KATO) The Kenya Association of Tour Operators is an Association of the leading and most experienced tour operators in Kenya. Its members are governed by a code of conduct which requires them to conduct business in an ethical and responsible manner. The Association works closely with the Ministry of Tourism and other stakeholders for the promotion of eco-tourism. These other players include:- The Kenya Wildlife Service on the beach management programme and the development of park use rules.
The Ministry of Tourism, Kenya Wildlife Service and Safari Guides Association on the development and observance of a code of conduct for visitors and tour operators. Eco tourism Society of Kenya and other Non-Governmental organisations on identifying and advising on the potentials of nature based tourism among various communities. Local communities on capacity building and maximization of revenue generation. For example with the help of the Kenya Association of Tour Operators assistance, two groups adjacent to the Mara Reserve were able to raise their revenues from US$ 83,000 to US$ 2 Million within a year.
Organising annual workshops on the conservation and environmental management for sustainable tourism development. Organizing seminars and workshop to promote community input in the management of nature and cultural tourism. In addition other notable stakeholders include established trade Associations that serve both as lobby groups and active participants in the overall development and marketing of Kenya as a tourist destination. These include:- Kenya Association of Hotel Keepers and Caterers (KAHC); Kenya Budget Hotels;
Kenya Association of Travel Agents (KATA); Mombasa and Coast Tourist Association (MCTA); Kenya Budget Hotels Association; Kenya Air Charter Operators Association; and The Board of Airlines Representatives. An active partnership exists between the Associations and the Government with optimum performance of the tourism industry being the common goal. Consultation and dialogue among all the stakeholders is a guiding principle in Kenya’s tourism development. SUSTAINABLE CONSUMPTIVE WILDLIFE UTILIZATION AND ECO-TOURISM.
The concept of sustainable consumptive wildlife utilization has been formulated so as to counter the negative trends that were inherited from the wildlife based tourism and wildlife management policies that existed during and soon after the colonial period up to late 1970’s. By then, conservation and tourism policies overlooked the interests of the local people by emphasizing control and regulations while neglecting incentives that would contribute to the success of wildlife conservation and management programmes in the country.