OPINION

Marketing cultural sites can boost domestic tourism in Kenya

In Summary
  • Each of the 47 counties have unique cultural and tourism sites to offer.
  • Domestic tourism has equally some challenges that negate its growth
Tourists enjoy the scenery at Tree Tops Hotel in Nyeri county
ATTRACTION SITES: Tourists enjoy the scenery at Tree Tops Hotel in Nyeri county
Image: FILE

Last week I was invited to attend a workshop on National culture and tourism in Nairobi. The participants were drawn from all 47 counties along with diverse tourism stakeholders across our country.

While most of us were drawn to the workshop agenda on how to embrace our culture and tourism for socio-economic development, I was so much drawn to presentations by county executive officers on uniqueness and diverse cultural and tourism sites within each of the counties.

From the discussion and exchanges, it was very clear that we have such a huge untapped tourism potential to boost domestic tourism in this time of world Covid-19 pandemic that has led to a serious crisis.

One may ask why domestic tourism and what role does domestic tourism play in the tourism industry, after all as a country we have been relying more on international visitors and we had not put much emphasis on domestic tourism in the past.

The above assertion does not hold anymore, thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic after international tourist visitation came to a halt, we were left with domestic tourism to come in handy to fill in the gap.

The UN-WTO defines Domestic Tourism “as the tourism of resident visitors within the economic territory of the country of reference” It, therefore, involves travel by residents of the given country within the country in other words local tourism.

For us to provide any meaningful benefit from domestic tourism we need to reorient our tourism planning, marketing, funding and above all our mindset of overreliance on the international market must change.

One of the low hanging fruits for faster tourism industry recovery is to focus on how best to increase domestic tourism volume so that it makes economic sense. One of the way is to promote inter-county travel and tourism.

As we realized. Each of the 47 counties have unique cultural and tourism sites to offer.

For example, the Northern Counties of Marsabit, Isiolo, Samburu, West Pokot, Wajir, Garissa Mandera and Turkana have special sceneries, desert, the cradle of mana-kind and very pastoralism culture that can be herniated for tourism.

The Mountain and Central Kenyan have agri-tourism, Mau Mau caves, mountain climbing and traditions while Riff valley Counties have special sport-tourism combined with cultural sites.

The Western and lake region is even more diverse both in terms of community culture, landforms and biodiversity to promote domestic visitation.

Domestic tourism has equally some challenges that negate its growth, lack of information available to the public on accommodation, transport, and site-specific information and host community and visitor expectations among others.

These need to be adequately packaged and disseminated to the Kenya public to encourage traveling.

The other challenge is the effects of the global pandemic of Covid-19 on local business which is slowing progress and post Covid-19 recovery.

The writer Tuqa Jirmo, Ph.D., is the National Chairman of Domestic Tourism Association – Kenya