TOURISM SUCCESS

Kenya positioned as key cultural, heritage tourism destination

Kenya’s cultural diversity and rich heritage has been a key tourist attraction.

In Summary

• Some of the key cultural attractions in the destination are the Maa culture, Coastal region cultures and heritage sites such as Lake Turkana Park, Lamu old town and Fort Jesus among others.

• Balala said that the ministry was working towards packaging the experiences with more people now travelling for cultural experiences into the destination.

CS for Tourism and Wildlife Najib Balala hands over the UNWTO best tourism village certificate to the Olergasiale community.
CS for Tourism and Wildlife Najib Balala hands over the UNWTO best tourism village certificate to the Olergasiale community.
Image: HANDOUT

Kenya’s position as a rich cultural and heritage destination has received a boost following the awarding of Olergesaille Village as the best tourism village by the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO).

Kenya’s cultural diversity and rich heritage has been key tourist attraction and has been the main avenue for the destination to connect with the world through experiences offered and learning.

With the variety of ethnicities across the different regions in the country and many UNESCO world heritage sites, Kenya is positioned as a key cultural and heritage tourism destination in Africa.  

Some of the key cultural attractions in the destination are the Maa culture, Costal region cultures and heritage sites such as Lake Turkana Park, Lamu old town and Fort Jesus among others.

While handing over the UNWTO Best Tourism village certificate to Olergesaille village in Magadi, Kajiado County, Cabinet Secretary for Tourism and Wildlife Najib Balala said that the ministry was working towards packaging the experiences with more people now travelling for cultural experiences into the destination.

“Kenya has over 40 ethnic groupings and with this comes a cultural richness that is loved, and that people from across the world want to experience," Balala said.

He added, "Our goal is to continue showcasing to the world that we have so much more for them to enjoy while in the destination. I congratulate Olergesaile village for putting Kenya on the global map, and I encourage even more of this going forward.” 

Olergaesaille village also known as Olorgesailie is among 44 villages from 32 countries that were recognised by UNWTO during the 2021 general meeting in Madrid, Spain.

The villages were awarded for having met the criteria of standout natural and cultural resources as well as for their innovative and transformative actions and commitment to the development of tourism in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Located in Olergesaille conservancy, the village is the custodian of one of Kenya’s rich prehistoric sites which are of global interest as it helps to piece together human history and development.

It is famous for the hand axes unearthed here, many of which date back almost one million years and are some of the oldest ever found.

Most of the axes are egg-shaped with razor-sharp edges for cutting and hewing perfectly formed tools to fit a human hand.

Because early humans camped here, there is an abundance of tools that are categorized as belonging to the Acheulean period.

The location also offers a unique insight into our early ancestors Homo Erectus, and into the evolution of other early human species, with evidence of continuous hominid activity from 1.2 million to 490 thousand years ago.

"Sustainability is key for Kenya’s tourism industry and therefore the work that has been undertaken on the prehistoric site, which is under UNESCO’s tentative list of 2010, is of utmost significance," KTB CEO Betty Radier said.

Radier added that this also proves that Kenya is truly the cradle of mankind with the kind of pre-historic artefacts unearthed here and in Turkana”

Founder of the Maa village Olergesaille, Charles Leshore said they are humbled to receive the UNWTO best tourism village recognition which is a testament to the work that has been undertaken by the community.

"Our model is adopted to combine the community, conservation and tourism business which are our key pillars. encourage other community projects in Kenya to leverage on global platforms like UNWTO to showcase the contribution they make in enriching visitor experience in Kenya,” Leshore said.

Other key attractions and activities are a Prehistoric Stone Tools Factory, the Maa Museum, Mt. Olergesaille, Mt. Oletepesi, the Donkey Phenomenon, breath-taking landscapes, and the Maasai culture.

Activities such as mountain climbing and hiking and bird watching are also key attractions.