Definition of the World Tourist Organisation (WTO): Tourists are those who are “travelling to and staying in places outside their usual environment for not more than one consecutive year for leisure, business and other purposes not related to the exercise of an activity remunerated from within the place visited”
In other words: A tourist are those who goes to different place for private interest or who is sent there, but is not employed at this place.
Business tourists may go to this place for meetings or further education. Private tourists may go there for adventure, recreation, pilgrimage or many other purposes.
Eco-tourism stressed on local cultures, wilderness adventures, personal development and learning new methods to live. It is defined as travel to different areas where the flora, fauna, and cultural heritage are the major attractions. Responsible ecotourism includes practices that lessens the negative impacts of regional tourism on the natural environment, and flourishes the cultural integrity of local communities. Hence, in addition to evaluating environmental, social and cultural factors, initiatives by hospitality providers to positioning recycling, energy efficiency and the creation of economic opportunities for local people are an integral part of ecotourism.
Historical, biological and cultural conservation, sustainable development etc. are some of the sectors closely linked to Eco-Tourism. Large number of professionals have been involved in formulating and growing eco-tourism programs. They come from the fields of Geographic data Systems, Wildlife authorities, Wildlife Photography, and Oceanography, National and State Park authorities, Environmental Sciences, Women in Development, and Archaeologists, etc.
Ecotourism is widely considered as a nature-based type of alternative visitors that embodies the virtuous traits that tourism supposedly lacks. Therefore, the notion of mass ecotourism is often seen as a contradiction in means or oxymoron. This article, however, argues that ecotourism as both reality, an ideal can logically be perceived as a form of mass tourism, and not it’s opposite. The first sector provides a working definition of ecotourism, and the remainder of the paper then raise the rationale for the above contention, and considers its applications for the tourism industry and for ecotourism destinations.
Meaningful travel to natural areas to understand the culture and natural facts of the environment, taking care not to change the integrity of the ecosystem, during the production of economic opportunities that make the preservation of natural resources profitable to local communities.
Hence, ecotourism is a form of tourism to relatively undisturbed natural locations for the main reasons of admiring them and knowing more facts about their lives. Ecotourism also tries to decrease its effects on the locations visited. It also supports to the preservation of natural venues and the sustainable development of adjacent locations and communities, spreading further awareness among habitants and nearby populations and tourist.
Although a relatively new part of the tourism sector, ecotourism has diffused vastly all over the world. The most popular ecotourism destinations are spread relatively evenly all over the world and involve sites in Central and South America and the USA and Australia.
Another vital ecotourism area is Africa. For example, Kenya employs approximately 55,000 people in its wildlife tourism sector. The Kenya Wildlife Service recorded $24 million of profits from wildlife tourism in 1990. For 1995, it was about $54 million with 25% of earnings paid to people in destinations adjacent to parks and reserves.
A latest study of Amboseli National Park in Kenya states that each lion there was worth $27,000 and each elephant herd as much as $610,000 in tourist profits per year.
Cultural tourism tends to stress on the indigenous of an area and their customs, arts, crafts, architecture, religion and lifestyles or on visits to art galleries and temples Historical tourism mainly stress on the ‘glories of the past’ in the form of monuments, museums, and historical sites There are number of different profits that can be derived from Ecotourism if local people use it as a tool rather than number of outside visitors. However, the results are a direct image of the encouragement behind the program. Since these motivations are mostly mixed it follows that the results are often mixed too.
Sometimes called nature tourism or ecotourism and educational travel based on natural attractions is a promising way of flourishing social, economic, political and environmental objectives in developing countries. It offers countries new ideas for small-enterprise investment and employment and developing the national stake in conserving their biological resources. However, making ecotourism a strong positive economic and environmental tool needs activities that foster responsible nature tourism growth, broad-based and active local participation in its profits, and conservation of developing countries’ biological heritage.
The ecotourism circumstances are currently entering a significant phase of its development in Kenya. In the past five years, ecotourism has attracted important attention from consumers, conservationists, economic development specialists and others. However, they are entering a period during, which ecotourism will undergo more careful scrutiny to determine whether it provides as many benefits as its proponents suggest it should. For this to be done information has to be made available on nature, performance and characteristics of ventures operating under the ecotourism label. Ecotourism Society of Kenya is at this time working on a project to develop a national record of all existing ecotourism projects in the Kenya, with a view to establishing the extent to which ecotourism has contributed to improved livelihoods for local people and aided conservation. The first phase of this project involved reviewing existing literature on ecotourism enterprises in Kenya, both for existing and potential ventures. The second phase will involve a questionnaire survey of the listed projects and others that may be discovered during such visits. This is going help to, among other things, to verify facts, get people views, and fill- in gaps of information missing from writ ten.
Kenya is best known for its wide savannas teeming with lions and elephants, but most travellers don’t know that it’s also home to mountains, lakes, rain forests, deserts and beaches, each with its own unique ecosystem and wildlife. Kenya’s incredible natural diversity is protected in some 50 national parks and reserves across the country, from the virgin rain forests of the Kaka mega Forest Reserve to the wildebeests who migrate to the Maasai Mara National Reserve every July and August. On the coast, travellers can walk down pristine white beaches or go diving along colourful coral reefs. All tourism occurs under the watchful eye of Ecotourism Kenya, which works to protect the local environment through community outreach and education projects. The organization also rates lodges throughout Kenya based on their environmental policies.
Three Pillars of the Tourism Strategy
In this term “pillar” means goals in combination with opportunities and strength. Therefore it is a plan with greater development than the term “objectives” which is conventionally used in the context of project formulation to detail the achievable aims of a project.
For instance, one of the goals of this tourism strategy is to make stakeholders of the western region of Kenya to re-discover and advertise their wealth of natural and cultural heritage as things that bewilder other humans, and that cannot be missed by adventurous visitors and travellers coming to Kenya.
Diversification in the context means strategic improvement of product development in order to gain a more competitive stance of tourism in the western region in regards to quality products and tourism amenities as compared to the competition in other regions. Given the above definition of terms, this strategy rests on three strategic pillars of tourism development for the western region of Kenya, namely:
a. Product development and diversification
b. Integrated promotion, marketing and institutional development from below
c. Local tourism education and marketing as a tool of poverty eradication
(a) Product Development and Diversification
The abundance of unexploited tourism resources including nature, culture and infrastructure means there are many opportunities and options to improve the quality of old products and services or to develop new products. The highest priority, however, should be given to options for improvement of Mt. Elgon National Park and assistance for the community based ecotourism ventures. For example specific options for the improvement of Mt. Elgon National Park are given in a set of recommendations in Table1. They include opening of a second gate at Kaberwa, road improvement for specified park roads to all weather condition. Another priority product development option exists in the form of community based ecotourism ventures.
(b) Integrated Tourism Promotion, Marketing and Institutional Development
The following facts derived from interviews with top officials of tourism stakeholder organizations at national level illuminated a changing scenario and a new pattern of players for the key roles is emerging as can be seen from the following observations:
â€¢ KENYA WILDLIFE SERVICE will totally devolve marketing of its tourism products including handling of visitor services in national parks, national reserves, sanctuaries, etc, to the private sector and communities and concentrate on conservation of wildlife. KENYA WILDLIFE SERVICE will participate in community based tourism development in advisory capacities only.
â€¢ KATO, a membership organisation that was formed in 1974 and has 250 members, controls 90 per cent of the traffic and destinations of international tourists in Kenya.
(c) Local Tourism Education and Marketing as Tool of Poverty Eradication
At the beginning of this report it was mentioned that tourism is a strategic industry that has potential for eradication of poverty in the whole of Kenya. In view of the unexploited tourism potential in the western region of Kenya this vision should be taken seriously by sensitizing the entire population about the need to cultivate the right attitudes, hospitality skills and public relations in readiness for participation in viable tourism activities. National stakeholder organizations namely KENYA WILDLIFE SERVICE, KTB, KTDC, KTF, TD should be challenged to take the lead in popularizing tourism to the Kenyan population like KENYA WILDLIFE SERVICE has done in the last decade.
According to this trend of thought, the government has two options to decide upon concerning the Mt. Elgon area: to support the communities of the Mt. Elgon ecosystem to participate in sustainable conservation and development of natural resources and environment; and to maintain vigilance as was done previously to evict the Elgoni people from the caves and forest.
We recommend the former option, which implies willingness to support viable community based ecotourism ventures and to support the county council initiative of a conservancy and development of tourism activities based at the Chepkitale moorland. It is based on complementary inputs from two sources. The first input is derived from the empirical evidence collected by observations and discussions with local stakeholders during the field-work in the region and that has been presented and analyzed in chapters three and four. This group of stakeholders consists of private enterprises; local government authorities, NGOs and community based groups. Their main concerns are product development, marketing, sales and provision of services and infrastructure. The second input to the strategy is derived from consultations with the key national stakeholders of the tourism industry in Nairobi. This group of stakeholders comprises of Government of Kenya’s parastatal agencies and departments namely KENYA WILDLIFE SERVICE, KTDC, KTB, Tourism Department, and also Kenya Association of Tour Operators (KATO) representing the private sector. Their main concerns include product development, policy development and administration, international promotion and marketing and financing.
Over the next five years or so, it is necessary to identify the feasibility and responsibility for tourism development in the western region. As already mentioned above, it is unlikely that KENYA WILDLIFE SERVICE will be playing any promotion or marketing of tourism in future. Therefore the foreseen main role of KENYA WILDLIFE SERVICE is to develop and improve Mt. Elgon National Park including the establishment of a second gate and an access road at Kaberwa in collaboration with the Forest Department and the Mt. Elgon County Council. Concerning the roads networks outside the national park it as assumed (but probably it required to be specified) that their development and improvements is the responsibility of the central Government of Kenya and local government authorities.
The KTB and the Department of Tourism have an important role to play in development, promotion of globally marketable themes and packages for the new products to be developed. Such market-oriented themes are required for Mt. Elgon National Park itself and for the cultural attractions that will emerge from community ecotourism initiatives. Since both KTB and DoT are relatively new, in the field of destination marketing and operations at regional and grassroots level, new tourism oriented research and design and development capacities will be needed.
Develop/promote an exclusive market for cultural tourism through services and appropriate linkages with individual tour operators, MENOWECTO and the KTB.
Support diversification of high quality tourism products especially cultural products e.g. dancing, gift and curio products for sale by retail shops as well as bulk sales or consignments to major towns. Encourage participation of visitors in community services around Mt. Elgon National Park and in the nearby towns of Kapsokwony and Kitale.
Assist Mt. Elgon County Council to initiate a conservancy for tourism development in the Chepkitale moorlands, including development of an access road through, and a gate at Kaberwa under a new partnership deal between KENYA WILDLIFE SERVICE, Forest Department and Mt. Elgon County Council.
Develop institutional linkages for marketing of community based ecotourism through local home stay operators.
Create general public awareness and popular support of tourism.
Support training of community based dancing groups and tour guides in appropriate skills including: Technical names and skills for identification, handling of plants, animals etc. Camping, first aid and emergency techniques; and Public relations, public presentation, marketing, negotiation and packaging, Institutionalize community ecotourism groups and ventures for sustainability.
Support the specified improvement and expansion of park infrastructure including making road circuit all-weather, camping site improvements, second gate at Kaberwa and supporting the Chepkitale conservancy.
In order to increase local tourism and visitation to Mt. Elgon National Park in particular, KENYA WILDLIFE SERVICE should launch a lightly scheduled bus service to familiarize residents and visitors in Kitale with the availability of regular and reliable public transport to and from Mt. Elgon National Park on certain days of the week.
Kenya is known as an international tourist place, but the Western Region of this country has very little tourism activity. There is no particular factor that is well known to be the main hindrance to tourism in the region. The Lack of awareness of tourism by the local communities, negligence or mismanagement of tourist facilities, lack of technical knowledge and insecurity are commonly mentioned.
Situated 30 km west of Kitale town and gazetted in 1968, Mt. Elgon National Park is an area of 169 sq. km and is managed by a staff of 75 persons including 9 officers, 45 rangers and 6 drivers. The park receives 3000 visitors yearly. According to Edin Kalla, the Regional Assistant Director, the main challenges of the park are security for wildlife and visitors, increasing human-wildlife conflict along the border with the former ADC farms around the park, now sub-divided and settled by formerly landless people and with non-residential cultivation in the forest reserves, as well as shortages of human and financial resources. Occasionally wild forest fire is a big threat.
Ecotourism may seem to have a positive way to it, but in contrast, it has a very grim reality joining it. While having reaped economic benefits from ecotourism, there are instances where people are forced to leave their homes, instances of gross violations of fundamental rights, and increase in the number of environmental hazards.
Eco tourism is held as important by those who taking part in it so that coming generations may experience exposure of the environment relatively untouched by human development, and by becoming a part of this brigade, you are doing your bit to keep the planet the way it should be. Hence to make our trip as nice as possible, look into all the aspects that seem significant to you. Duty is backbone on which eco-tourism is based, and performed in the right direction, can to make sure a guilt-free, remember able holiday.
In this Industry in many countries or the region’s big industrial sectors as well as the Economic industry of today, eco-tourism as an ideal way, it has made some growth in our country and in many local societies and planning a unavoidable item. Nearly two series of ten, the industry at home and foreign, and scholars define the eco-tourism, and noted the need in according with the development strategy, highlighting on the long-term development of bionomics tourism resources, and established a plan of development, supporting the plan of eco-tourism. In this paper, the original eco-tourism to further examines its definition, and the economic importance of eco-tourism to be.
Ecotourism is undoubtedly a key feature in Kenya’s economy. However, this study reveals that the ecotourism sector faces several challenges which include the need to respond to local community development and aspirations, meeting visitor’s varied expectations, improving management and planning efforts as well as developing effective and efficient infrastructure and services. According to Gakahu (1992), Kenya has a policy that emphasizes those habitats and wildlife populations are to be maintained in a reasonably ‘natural’ state while catering for economically important activities. This is important for the tourist industry because the naturalness of amenities is what attracts tourists and is what they pay for. Appropriate planning and management is necessary to redress past mistakes and ensure the future welfare of ecotourism. One cannot rule out the possibility that at some point, conservation and economic exploitation, through ecotourism, might become incompatible unless appropriate mechanisms of reconciling them are worked out.
Today, the ecological integrity and attractiveness of the Amboseli and Mara conservation areas is being impaired by visitor use. In conclusion, immediate, short-term and long-term planning and management actions need to be taken in order to stop the current poor use and localized overuse of the Amboseli and Mara. The best use of visitor attitudes and use impacts outlined in this study could guide management. This study clearly demonstrates that simply calculating visitor figures is insufficient for management, planning and monitoring responses. If the management cannot deal with the identified problems, then there is need to establish visitor capacity. Visitor impact management programmes therefore can minimise visitor impacts before costly restoration and rehabilitation programs become necessary.