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Sustainable toursim development at the Kenya Coast
Nyakweba, E. O. E. (2002). Sustainable toursim development at the Kenya Coast. MSc Thesis. Vrije Universiteit Brussel: Brussel. 238, appendices (9) pp.

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    VLIZ: Non-open access 246960
Document type: Dissertation

Keywords

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  • Nyakweba, E. O. E.

Abstract
    Tourism has for a long time been central in stimulating Kenya’s socio-economic development like is the case with several other countries and regions of the world. Tourism is a major employer in Kenya besides stimulating local purchases and business that benefit the local populations in so many ways through the inherent multiplier effect. For several years, the tourism industry had been the number one foreign exchange earner for the country followed by tea and coffee. Since the late 1980s however, the trend for tourism as the number one foreign exchange earner has been declining with the number of visitors to the country falling drastically. Because of this fall in the number of tourists visiting the country, tourism earnings have dropped in favor of agricultural exports such as, horticultural products, tea and coffee. Most tourist activities in Kenya take place at the coastal region. This is because this region has some of the best attractive natural resources that attract visitors. Notable among these resources are the: marine fauna and flora, such as coral reefs and mangrove forests, warm clear waters, sand beaches, marine parks, the wildlife at the national parks close by, the ancient monuments such as Fort Jesus, the 15lh century Arab Palace at Gede in Mida area etc and the friendship that is characteristic of the coast people. I he expansion in the number of tourists meant increased exploitation of the available local resources to meet the demand of the increased numbers. This has led to a situation whereby very many tourist-related developments have come up along the coastal line like hotels, shops and other infrastructure resulting to overexploitation and uncontrolled use of the marine resources, especially the fish and coral resources. Overlooked and taken for granted is the most important resource besides the natural resources, that is peace and security in the destination areas. For a long time the coastal region of Kenya has been known to be very peaceful and secure for the visitors and the local population. This has however not been the case in the past decade or so. Insecurity in the country has been very rampant culminating into actual ethnic clashes in the Rilt Valley, Western and the coast provinces. This fighting and the general feeling of insecurity in these regions of Kenya have greatly contributed to the fall in the number of tourists visiting the country. Hence, to restore the image of the country as a popular tourist destination, there is urgent need for the Kenya government and all stakeholders in the tourism industry to address the issue of insecurity at the coast region and by extension therefore, peace and security in the entire country. Tourists are not going to risk their lives in making holidays in destinations where their security is not guaranteed. It is also unwise to think that the visitors will come and enjoy being locked in their hotel rooms while innocent people are slaughtering each other outside their hotels. The lesson one can learn from the declining trend in tourism at the coast region of Kenya is that, tourism in Kenya has not been developed on the basis of the principles of sustainability. Yet, it is a very important sector in the country’s economic development. For instance tourism in Kenya has been developed without the full participation of local Kenyans. Most tourism investments such as the accommodation industry and tour operator companies are owned by non-Kenyans making the whole industry vulnerable to local dissent. This has undermined the tenets on which the tourist industry can sustain itself. Because of the useful role tourism plays in the economy, it therefore makes sense that tourism in Kenya should be planned, developed and managed in such a way that it continues to be self-sustaining. It should be developed in such a way that it continues to attract visitors in a sustainable manner and hence supporting the country’s socioeconomic development today while retaining its ability to offer service to other tourists in the future. It must be a brand of tourism that relates to local peoples’ needs and their way of life. This is actually the essence of sustainable tourism development. Based on the findings of this study, tourism development at the coast region of Kenya has not been strictly based on the principles of sustainability and therefore most of it may not be within the sustainable tourism development process. Also the sustainable tourism development principles have not been integrated into the country’s development plans and the principles of sustainability have not been embraced by tourism developers. Sustainable tourism development seeks to encourage the following principles among others: Protection, preservation and conservation of the attractive resources at the destination. Respect for local ethical and cultural environment. Peace and security for all in host areas. - Foster cordial relations and contacts between visitors and hosts. Encourage local populations to participate in tourism development. Make it possible for the local populations to draw economic benefits from tourism activities in the destination areas. Allow local people to participate in the management of local attractive resources. This is largely not the case in tourism development in Kenya. It is in the light of the above, that this study was undertaken so that it could help find out the extent to which the country can integrate the principles of sustainable tourism development in her development plans with the aim of achieving sustainable tourism. The study has come up with recommendations on viable management models on how the principles of sustainable tourism can be integrated into the overall development of tourism in Kenya and more especially in the coast region. This was in the form of three case studies. 1 he three cases in this study were based on the management models drawn from the globally acknowledged principles of sustainable tourism development. Case one is based on a management model encompassing the principles of sustainable tourism development entirely dependent on the reconstitution, rehabilitation, conservation and development of ecological bio-diversity resources to support ecotourism. The first case study area was in Bamburi -Nyali- Shanzu in Mombasa. This is the area that has had most tourist impacts at the coast region of the country. A good example where efforts have been done to promote sustainable tourism in this area is the Nature trail in Bamburi. This area has largely encompassed principles of sustainable tourism development in rehabilitating and reconstituting bio-diversity structures that support ecotourism. Major among these being involvement of local people living adjacent to the ecosystem in both benefits and the running of the project, protecting and conserving tourist resources in the park. Case two is based on a management model encompassing the principle of local peoples’ participation in sustainable tourism development by conserving local attractive resources. The incentive being economic benefits from the financial resources accruing from tourism activities in the form of revenue sharing. This was tried and developed at the Mombasa and Watamu National Marine Parks. Case three is based on a community-based tourism model whereby local people take up their own initiative to start a tourist project that will earn them revenue from tourists. The planning and management of the project is done at the local level. In this case, the women group in Gazi and Shirazi are today enjoying tourist revenues by mounting cultural shows and hosting tourist groups in their villages. Collaborating nearby tourist hotels have put the shows on their itinerary so that they can readily take tourists to the villages to buy local articles. The cultural exhibits include varieties of articles made locally including food shows.

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