Providing emergency food relief during COVID-19 Pandemic

Name of Project: Emergency Food Relief Project

Manager: Maurice Simiyu- Sanctuary Olonana-Sanctuary Retreats

Location of Project: Maasai Mara, Kenya

Located on the banks of Mara River, in the heart of vast and beautiful Masai Mara landscape, Sanctuary Olonana’s sustainability journey bears a string of global awards, and even more impressive the Gold ecorating certification awarded by Ecotourism Kenya. The recognitions are a fitting symbol of the property’s commitment to promoting sustainable tourism in Kenya.

Since the establishment of the property over two decades ago, and its subsequent refurbishment into a lodge, Sanctuary Olonana which belongs to the portfolio of Sanctuary Retreats has worked hand in hand with the local community where it conducts business, to promote development on a far more successful and sustainable scale. Through the Sanctuary Retreats Philanthropy and partnership with Abercrombie & Kent Philanthropy, the facility has identified and supported a myriad of projects in the local community.

One of the most crucial projects that was initiated by the facility is the Safe Water for Schools Initiative, which involve provision of water filters to schools, enabling purification of drinking water. This has helped to reduce the incidences of water borne diseases among students. Besides provision of water filters to schools, Sanctuary Olonana also runs school feeding programme at Enkerreri Primary School, and has provided locals with employment opportunities at the lodge so they can be able to earn income. Even more remarkable, is the facility’s commitment to women empowerment.  It has provided a space at its gift shop to local women to display and sell their beadworks directly to guests at no cost.

Local women displaying beadworks at the gift shop

Meeting the aspirations of local communities through delivery of sustainable development projects is no small feat. It is thanks to the guests who choose to stay with Sanctuary Olonana during their safari to Kenya, that the facility has been able in both big and small ways to positively influence the livelihoods of communities. With the pandemic setting foot into our country, tourism being grounded to a halt and the facility unable to generate revenue, the livelihoods of the communities that the facility had supported over the years were at great stake. Women were unable to sell their beadworks at the lodge, local employees unable to earn any income and students of Enkerreri Primary School no longer getting meals at the school. Undoubtedly, there was dire need of solutions in any form or shape. The facility adopted Emergency Food Relief Project to keep the communities afloat during these very unprecedented times and the rest is history.

The success so far

What started as a conceived idea has gone on to successfully become an important accomplishment in Sanctuary Olonana’s sustainability journey, considering the devastating impacts that the pandemic has had on tourism. To set the ground running, the facility embarked on communicating to its donors and partners with a call for support, and the good news is that the donors were more than willing to step in. The facility now provides Enkerreri Primary School, Enkerreri Village and its neighbors 30 kilograms of beans, 25 kilograms of rice and 12 kilograms of flour each month for the last three months. So far 43 households and 19 Enkerreri staff members are benefiting from the support, with the total number of beneficiaries being approximately 377 people.

Members of the local community assembled in a socially distanced manner to receive the food donations.

What you can do to take part in the initiative

The Emergency Food Relief Project by Sanctuary Olonana demonstrates the unique ability of tourism to safeguard livelihoods in the local communities even in the midst of a global pandemic. Further, it is a microcosm of what is possible through shared values and shared sacrifices. The success realized so far with this initiative is thanks to the generous contribution of the donors, and for that Sanctuary Olonana is eternally grateful, and is encouraging you to also be part of this important cause.

If you wish to donate to this initiative, please visit the Abercrombie & Kent Philanthropy website. For any queries or comments regarding this project, please feel free to contact the philanthropy’s Kenya Program Coordinator at sstrothmann@akphilanthropy.org

Sanctuary Olonana has currently opened its doors and is delighted to welcome you back again and continue sharing with you the fascinating world that lies ahead!

 

Sunday 27th September 2020 will be a day set aside to commemorate the World Tourism Day.  The theme for this year is “Tourism and Rural Development” as unveiled by the United Nations World Tourism Organization.  Undeniably, tourism is an important engine of economic growth in many countries. With this theme, the tourism sector will demonstrate its unique ability to drive economic development and provide unique opportunities outside of the big cities to include those communities that would otherwise be left behind. The day will also highlight the crucial role that tourism plays in preserving and promoting culture and heritage globally.

To further define the principal component of this year’s theme, Rural Development is one that improves sustainable livelihoods especially among impoverished groups with careful attention paid to local characteristics.  Culture refers to the ideas, customs and social behavior of a particular people or society while Heritage refers to something that is handed down from the past.

In Kenya, tourism destinations that are well managed along the triple bottom line of sustainability have realized a wide array of benefits to the rural communities. These include: creation of jobs, improved schools infrastructure, enhanced access to community health, and provision of markets for products such as beadworks, not to mention improved access to water among others.  In the words of the late Nelson Mandela, “ultimately conservation is about the people. If you don’t have sustainable development around wildlife parks, then the people will have no interest in them, and the parks will not survive.” Nothing could be closer from the truth.

At Ecotourism Kenya, it has always been our tradition to celebrate the World Tourism Day by recognizing and awarding responsible tourism operators in Kenya for their important contribution in promoting responsible tourism. However, owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year we will be celebrating the day differently. In the spirit of responsible tourism, we would love to know from you how, in both big and small ways you are supporting local economies, promoting cultural and heritage tourism within the rural communities. Share with us your stories in pictures and videos on pr@ecotourismkenya.org and we will be delighted to share them on our social media platforms.  For individuals, send us photos and videos of yourself interacting with locals in a rural destination in Kenya.

 

We will be using the hash tag #WorldTourismDayKe #RuralTourism #TourismDevelopment to promote these stories up to Monday 28th September 2020.

 

How to ensure that your travel is sustainable

What is sustainable travel? This is an important question that perhaps could be in most travelers’ minds. Sustainable travel does not mean scaling back on comfort or enjoyment, but rather travelling in a manner that protects wildlife and its habitat, supports community livelihoods and preserves the local cultures.

Tourists on a game drive – courtesy of Gamewatchers safaris

 

In the last few months we’ve seen the world shut indoors by the spread of COVID 19. Now, we start to see lockdown measures eased and there’s hope for tourism. Most countries are slowly beginning to reopen with health and hygiene protocols in place – domestic tourism is thriving.

Kenyans have flocked the Mara for the wildebeest migration spectacle but do we know the safari rules? How sustainable have we prepared for our local travels? Here are some insights:

  • Minimize disturbance to animals
  • Stay inside your vehicle at all times
  • Never feed animals
  • Keep to designated roads or tracks

Read more here…

Kenya’s twin migration in August

A humpback whale spotted during the exhibition in Watamu, Kilifi county

Kenya is positioning both the annual Wildebeest Migration in the Maasai Mara and the Whale Migration in the coastal region as unique natural tourism experience in the destination. Speaking during a Humpback Whale migration watching expedition in Watamu, Tourism and Wildlife Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala said both migrations position Kenya as the go-to destination for both safari and beach.

“Both migrations peak between July and September, which means that Kenya can host a twin migration experience, a unique wildlife phenomenon, incorporating both the bush and the beach product,” Balala said.

Every year, Humpback whales migrate from Antarctica to warmer climates, congregating in Kenyan waters between July and August to calve and mate. After spending two months breeding and nursing their calves, the whales then make their journey back to Antarctica around September. In East Africa, the whales travel up to 4,000 kilometers to reach their chosen area to take care of their newborns.

“I urge all visitors both domestic and international, that next time you seek to have an exciting experience during this period, make a point to witness these two great spectacles,”Balala said.

We urge our members; tour operators and accommodation facilities to take this opportunity in the future and use it as a marketing tool for your businesses and Kenya as a destination.

Kenya becomes first country to be awarded “Safer Tourism Seal’’

#SaferTourismSeal

Kenya has become the first country to be awarded the recommended status of the “Safer Tourism Seal” by the Rebuilding Travel group. Rebuilding Travel is a non-political, pro-tourism organization made up of tourism boards, ministers, travelers and other travel-related parties from around the world.

The Safer Travel Seal will be crucial in building traveler confidence in Kenya as international travel resumes and hospitality outlets re-open. The seal, which is a recognizable symbol throughout the world, will be key to positioning Kenya as a safe and preferred destination.

Cabinet Secretary for Tourism and Wildlife, Najib Balala, was presented with the award in a virtual event. Speaking after receiving the recognition, CS Balala said that the award is testimony to Kenya’s continued efforts to ensure travelers’ safety following the global COVID-19 Pandemic.

“As a destination, we have put together health and safety measures that are aimed at ensuring the safe reopening of the tourism sector. This is to ensure that our citizens, travelers, and workers are well protected. On behalf of my country I am happy to receive this recognition that shows we are headed in the right direction in regard to the Covid-19 safety protocols, “said Balala.

This recognition follows the Safe Travel Stamp award to Kenya by the World Travel and Tourism Council earlier in June this year.

 

When it’s September, you know it is…

WORLD TOURISM DAY! Celebrated each year on the 27th of September, Its purpose is to foster awareness among the international community of the importance of tourism and its social, cultural, political and economic value. The day seeks to address global challenges outlined in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and to highlight the contribution the tourism industry can make in reaching the Sustainable Development Goals.

This year’s theme is Tourism: Building Peace! Fostering Knowledge! And the host cities and nations selected for the celebrations are Djibouti and Addis Ababa.

We will update you on any major event planned under the Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife.

 

*Ecotourism Kenya resuming office operations

We would like to inform you that we have fully resumed office operations  beginning 1st September 2020. For any required service feel free to pay us a visit or call 0726366080.

 


pr@ecotourismkenya.org

Ecotourism Kenya
Telephone:  +254 020 529 2078 Office Cell: +254 726 366080.
Website www.ecotourismkenya.org

Local Tourists Urged To Explore Magical Kenya Signature Experiences

Cabinet Secretary for Tourism and Wildlife, Najib Balala, has asked Kenyans to embrace diverse tourism experiences, especially those that are tailor-made to suit different preferences.

Speaking during a visit to The Forest Adventure at Kereita, Kiambu County, Balala called on the local tourists to explore the Magical Kenya Signature Experiences (MKSE) that are a cut above the traditional tourism offerings as they offer an authentic and highly-personalized experience. These were identified through an evaluation process in the first phase of identifying experiences that form part of the must – visit experiences in Kenya.

He took on the zip-lining and archery experience which is part of the experiences offered at Kereita.

Read more…

TripAdvisor ranks Nairobi’s storytelling by street children 2020 Best of Best experiences in Africa

Photo credit: Google

Experiential travel, also known as immersion travel, is a form of tourism in which people focus on experiencing a country, city or particular place by actively and meaningfully engaging with its history, people, culture, food and environment.

This has now become a trend in the city under the sun – Nairobi. The tours which are done by former street children has seen the young adults an income through tourism. The tour allows visitors to give back as they enjoy a fascinating cultural experience of walking through downtown Nairobi.

Since the coronavirus pandemic started, tourists can watch the tour virtually and visit places they have always wanted to see, at the touch of a button – zoom.

Commonly experienced in Morocco which ranks top as the country that woos many experiential travellers who do not fancy beaches and wildlife. It organizes camel ride trips in Marrakech through the Atlas Mountains, three valleys and waterfalls, and a Sahara desert safari. In South Africa, wine tours and bungee jumping draw tourists in droves. Business Daily

Check more here – Nai Nami – TripAdvisor

Welcome to the world of Hashtags

Photo credit: WTM Africa

The modern business model has shifted from direct sales of interacting from person to person – hello Covid 19…to a generation of people buying/selling products on digital platforms. Whether you’re just setting up your brand’s social media handles, or you’ve been on Instagram/Twitter/Facebook for a while, having a hashtag strategy is key to increasing the visibility of your brand.

The hashtag strategy in marketing is getting more buzz in the digital business space. You should regularly build on your hashtag strategy, finding new hashtags to add to your lists and use on your posts.

Get to know why you need a hashtag strategy for your business? How does it benefit your brand? What types of hashtags can you use for marketing? And how do you know your hashtag strategy is working? Read more…

In case you missed it…

The Covid 19 membership series is going on. It is a series of case studies that demonstrate how Kenyan responsible tourism operators are coping with the effects COVID-19. Last week, we released the 4th part which is up on the website, and we focused on Saruni Camps and Lodges.

We are committed to keep you updated with news and activities taking place during this period. If you have news that might be relevant to Ecotourism Kenya fraternity, initiatives that you’d want communicated to the tourism industry, please drop us an email on ecorating@ecotourismkenya.org

 

PR Team

pr@ecotourismkenya.org

 

Keeping community livelihoods and conservation afloat during COVID-19 Pandemic

Name of Project: Adopt-an-Acre project

Founder: Riccardo Orizio- Saruni Camps and Lodges

Location of Project: Masai Mara and Samburu regions, Kenya

The late Nelson Mandela said: “Ultimately conservation is about people. If you don’t have sustainable development around wildlife parks, then the people will have no interest in them, and the parks will not survive.” This has resonated well with how Saruni has conducted its business since inception. Established in 2003, the company owns and runs four properties namely: Gold-rated Saruni Mara, Saruni Samburu, Saruni Wild and Saruni Rhino.

In line with its core etho of promoting responsible tourism, which remains unchanged to this day, the company has employed over 100 members of the local Maasai and Samburu communities in its four properties.

Pictured (Saruni Samburu staff)

In addition, the company also pays hundreds of local landowners land rates in the four conservancies where it conducts business namely: Mara North Conservancy, Lemek Conservancy, Kalama Conservancy and Sera Conservancy. For the company, the annual cost in wages and land rates is above USD 1.1 million. The money not only contributes to protection of wildlife and its habitat, but also in supporting local livelihoods. It is on this basis, that Saruni is now widely considered one of the role models in responsible tourism in Kenya. At the heart of it all and without whom none of this would be possible, are the guests who choose to stay with Saruni during their safari to Kenya and pay conservation fees as part of their sustainable travel.

Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has hampered the company’s efforts to generate revenue from tourism to meet the obligations highlighted above. This could potentially spell doom for the conservation efforts put in place by creating potential threats such as repossession of land by community land owners and change of land use for instance to farming. The company has responded to this by establishing the “Adopt-an-Acre” project to address these unprecedented challenges.

Pictured: Guests participate in a number of activities such as game drives

How it works

It’s worth mentioning that apart from the many social development and conservation projects supported by the company, it also pays a significant amount of money as land rates in the four conservancies where it operates. For instance in 2019, the company generated a total income of USD 1.1 million to the local communities, which comprised of USD 650000 in conservancy fees and USD 450000 in salaries. This income benefitted an area of 83500 acres of land in Maasai Mara and 931000 acres in Samburu. This is by no means an easy feat! Therefore through the “Adopt-an-acre” project, the company is encouraging wildlife enthusiasts, friends, supporters and clients to play a part in its conservation mission by ‘Adopting an Acre of land’ in the conservancy through a donation, so that community and individual land owners can continue to earn money from the leases. The donation starts from USD 35 for 1 acre. In addition, as a special incentive, anyone adopting acres for the contribution of USD 1050 or more will receive a credit from Saruni for the same amount donated to be used towards the payment of a stay at any of the Saruni lodges and camps in 2021 and 2022.

The success so far

As it is often said, the only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today. Nothing could be closer from the truth for Saruni’s “Adopt-An-acre” project. Pushing any doubts to the side, so far the company has achieved a great level of success. According to the company’s website, as of 15th July 2020, a total of USD 26,645.89 had been raised against a target of USD 100,000.

What you can do to take part in the “Adopt-an-Acre” initiative

When the COVID-19 pandemic comes to an end and tourism returns to its pre-pandemic levels, “Adopt-an-Acre” project will most probably be regarded as one of the most ambitious and successful blueprints in lifting lives and protecting wildlife and its habitat during a pandemic. For continued success, the company is therefore encouraging you to be part of its journey in leaving our world a better place by donating to this great initiative. If you wish to be part of this cause, please do this via the company’s webpage dedicated for the project. For any queries or comments regarding this project, please feel free to contact the company’s CEO Riccardo Orizio directly on riccardo@saruni.com

Saruni remains very grateful for the generous support received so far, and looks forward to welcoming its guests back again and again, albeit in the knowledge that we still need to continue adhering to the health and safety measures even as tourism reopens its doors!

For more information regarding this project please visit the company’s website and social media pages on:

Website: https://saruni.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SaruniLodges/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SaruniCamp

WTM London Virtual PR Workshop 2020

We would like to extend an invite from the Kenya Tourism Federation (KTF) to attend WTM London Virtual PR workshop which will be held on the Thursday, 30th of July 2020 from 4pm – 5pm (EAT)

Whether it’s your first time or you’re a returning exhibitor, the PR Workshop will show you how to maximize your opportunities at WTM London and Travel Forward this year.

The workshop speakers will:

  • Show you how to boost your PR coverage
  • Reveal the new plans for 2020
  • Brief you on the show deadlines

Click here to REGISTER

Magical Kenya & Safaricom Lipa Na Bonga Points Partnership

As part of the Kenya Tourism Board’s (KTB) effort to promote domestic tourism, KTB has reached out to various partners to aid in the tourism recovery journey and will be partnering with Safaricom, taking advantage of the over 30 million subscribers to promote the destination across this subscriber base. To entice these numbers to travel, the partnership will allow domestic travelers to redeem Bonga Points in exchange for available tourism product and experience offers.

The campaign will be supported by above and below the line communication mediums as well as digital media for both marketing and publicity purposes carried out in collaboration by KTB and Safaricom. The campaign will initially run for 6 months (Aug 2020-Jan 2021) with monthly reviews. Safaricom will allow domestic travelers to redeem Bonga points in exchange for holiday experiences with the flexibility of toping up where the cost is not fully covered. Tourism operators either tourism attractions, sites and facilities, accommodation or transport providers would be required to register and be equipped for this service to be able to benefit from this traffic.

Establishments keen on enrolling for the Lipa na Bonga points or interested in finding out more about the program should contact KTB through mkamau@ktb.go.ke  and somondi@ktb.goke .

Eligibility:  To participate one is required to be a registered member of at least one of the travel trade associations and adhering to all the Ministry of Health stipulated Covid-19 protocols.

Magical Kenya & Equity Bank Partnership

Following the adverse effects the Covdid-19 pandemic has had on the travel industry, KTB’s marketing efforts will be focused on the domestic market for the foreseeable future. KTB in a bid to spur domestic travel has got into a partnership with Equity Bank. KTB’s main objective of getting into this partnership is to take advantage of the large customer base Equity Bank has and other communication assets at their disposal to create awareness of Kenya’s tourism product/experiences with a view of increasing demand and stirring domestic travel amongst Equity’s account holders.

The campaign will be supported by above and below the line communication mediums as well as digital media for both marketing and publicity purposes carried out in collaboration by KTB and Equity. The campaign will initially run for 6 months (Aug 2020-Jan 2021) with monthly reviews. The basis of this campaign will be offers (discounts and other value adds tied to consumption or purchases) offered to entice customers using their Equity cards to pay for tourism related products. These could be travel, accommodation, dining and any other experiences.

In order for this campaign to work they will require trade to enroll as merchants with attractive and compelling offers for the domestic market uptake. Interested companies should send their offers before July 30th using the attached form to mkamau@ktb.go.ke  and somondi@ktb.go.ke  for collation.

Eligibility:  to participate one is required to be a registered member of at least one of the travel trade associations, accepts cards as a mode of payment Visa/MasterCard and adhering to all the Ministry of Health stipulated Covid-19 protocols.

Airlines that are resuming flights into and out of Nairobi

Qatar Airlines will resume operations from Nairobi on the 3rd of August 2020 with 14 weekly flights, subject to regulatory approval.

Emirates will be operating a repatriation flight Today (Tuesday), 28th July 2020 and in addition purchase can be made for onward destinations as long as passengers are compliant with the respective country’s regulations.

British Airways will be resuming flights into and out of Nairobi on the 1st of August 2020. The airline will operate 4 weekly flights; Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday.

KLM will resume international travel into and out of Nairobi on the 3rd of August 2020. The airline will begin with 4 weekly flights; Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.

Air France will resume operations in Kenya on the 6th of August 2020. The airline will begin with one flight to Paris every Friday.

Note* All passengers are advised to kindly check the information published by the government of their destination country before traveling.

 

PR and Communication Team

pr@ecotourismkenya.org

 

Making a difference in the midst of COVID-19 Pandemic

Name of Project: “Cash for Trash” project

Founder: Watamu Marine Association (WMA) – Ken Ombok – Chairman

Location of Project: Watamu area

Turtle Bay Beach Resort is one of Kenya’s responsible tourism resorts in Watamu area and has always taken the lead in practicing sustainable tourism.  This is demonstrated in their operations and engagement of local communities to ensure there is equitable distribution of benefits accrued from tourism.  The resort has maintained an excellent record of commitment to the environment and community issues through their Community and Conservation office which has propelled them to become one of the few Gold eco-rated coastal resort in Kenya.

Being an eco-conscious resort, they are members of the Watamu Marine Association (WMA) that works with Environmental groups composed of youth and women groups to control the threat of non-biodegradable waste into the ocean. This waste in the form of marine debris pollutes the Marine Park beaches threatening vulnerable marine life. When endangered sea turtles ingest plastics mistaking them for jellyfish which is part of their natural diet, they eventually die due to internal problems and starvation due to the gut being blocked.

The gains the hotels and local environment groups in Watamu have made over the years have been adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.  The situation has meant complete closure of the resort for a couple of months as tourism activities were brought to a halt.  This meant that t the families, groups and communities dependent on tourism as a source of income had to find other ways of earning a living. It is in this period of adjustment that Turtle Bay Beach Resort and Watamu Marine Association partnered and came up with a way of engaging the locals in a “Cash for Trash” initiative. This initiative not only created an opportunity to support livelihood support to the locals but also ensured the marine beaches were cleaned up and the trash moved to appropriate locations.

Ongoing “cash for trash” cleanup along the Watamu beach

How it works

Turtle Bay Beach Resort in collaboration with Watamu Marine Association set aside a budget of Kshs. 810,000 to pay off locals for beach clean, purchase of necessary Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) and any necessary work equipment. The various environmental group members were engaged on a weekly basis on this project where they would collect all the non-biodegradable waste along the shores and later sort the waste along the various categories before transporting them to Eco-World for recycling purposes. At the end of each clean up and sorting activity, the members were paid Kshs. 500 each for their involvement.

This project was meant to run for a period of three months from April to June 2020 during which time approximately Kshs. 631,000 had been used to pay a total of 341 locals.  With a surplus of Kshs. 179,000 the project lifespan was extended beyond the initial three months.

At the Eco-World Centre, income is generated from the sale of recyclables. Besides selling crushed plastic to the recycling industries, the local community artists are making art and crafts from flip flops and plastic waste and selling them to the tourist outlets. This is a unique initiative at the Kenyan coast and is intended to raise public awareness to the problems related to waste and pollution and to demonstrate the potential of community solutions to waste management problems.

Waste sorting at Ecoworld before the recycling/repurposing starts

How YOU can take part in the “Cash for Trash” initiative

If you wish to join Turtle Bay Beach Resort and the Watamu Marine Association to promote conservation and provide the much needed income to the local community during this COVID-19 period, contact them through their website. For any queries or comments regarding this initiative, please feel free to contacts the WMA through stevetrott@watamu.biz

For more information visit their social media pages on:

Website: https://www.turtlebaykenya.com/

Website: http://www.watamu.biz/watamu-community.php?cid=32

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/watamumarineassociation

Twitter: https://twitter.com/WatamuMarine

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCr1faeIx_8d2XFqMTUekCPQ

ECOTOURISM OPERATORS IN KENYA RISING ABOVE THE COVID-19 CHALLENGE

This is a series of case studies that demonstrate how Kenyan responsible tourism operators are coping with the effects COVID-19 

Tourism operators are grappling with the effects of COVID-19 on travel, jobs, protection of wildlife and safeguarding livelihoods that depend on the industry for survival. While there is no denying the global pandemic is here with us, we will highlight the Ecotourism Kenya members who have risen above it and are creating ripples of positivity and sustainability.  This will be in a series of bi-monthly case studies featuring our membership with a call for support.

Name of Project: “Adopt-an-Acre” project

Founder: Jake Grieves-Cook and Dr. Mohanjeet Brar – Gamewatchers & Porini Camps

Location of Project: Masai Mara and Amboseli regions, Kenya

Gamewatchers Safaris, one of the leading tour companies in Kenya has been at the forefront in promoting the protection of wildlife habitat and supporting livelihoods of communities in the destinations in which it conducts business, such as Maasai Mara, Laikipia and Amboseli. These two crucial aspects of sustainability have been in the “DNA” of the company since its inception over 30 years ago. Through partnership with the community, Gamewatchers have adopted the conservancy concept by leasing land adjacent to protected areas such as Maasai Mara National Reserve and in the Amboseli eco-system. The benefits to the community are many such as income (about KES 150 million in 2019) from the leases and bed night fees, employment of 240 staff at the Gold rated Porini Camps as well as the conservancies.

In addition the company has established a bursary fund of over Kshs. 1 million each to Selenkay Conservancy, Amboseli and also to Ol Kinyei Conservancy, Maasai Mara in the last 12 months.

However, the global COVID-19 pandemic has brought tourism to a standstill. As a result, local communities which had for many years derived these benefits are now unable to do so, since no revenue is being generated. Further, wildlife conservation is now under threat, as communities might decide to take back their land and change the use for example to agriculture.

Guests on a game drive

While the world adjusts to the “new normal” characterized by cessations of movements and lockdowns, and not knowing when income from tourism will resume, these unprecedented events have led to more questions than answers. For example, how do these communities continue to earn income from the leased lands? How do the employees at the camps and conservancies earn an income when no revenue is being generated?

Gamewatchers Safaris in a bid to keeping with its commitment to protecting wildlife habitat and supporting community livelihoods has come up with an innovative approach called the “Adopt-an-Acre” plan.

How it works

It’s important to note that in Maasai Mara, Gamewatchers in partnership with like-minded companies is a founder member of Ol Kinyei, Naboisho and Olare Motorogi Conservancies which protect over 100,000 acres of land adjacent to the Maasai Mara National Reserve. Ol Kinyei conservancy is 18,700 acres and has been exclusively leased to Gamewatchers Safaris. Ol Kinyei is the only destination in the Mara-Serengeti ecosystem to be recognized as the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Green List destination. The IUCN Green List Standard addresses four themes: good governance, sound design and planning, effective management, and positive conservation outcomes.

A herd of elephants drinking water in one of the watering holes within Selenkay conservancy

On the other hand, in the Amboseli eco-system, over 20 years ago the company established Selenkay Conservancy a 15,000 acre private wilderness in the heart of Maasai country adjacent to the Amboseli National Park. Selenkay is arguably the first conservancy to be set up on this concept in the country and its successes have led to this model being replicated across the country.  This conservancy helped in conserving the wildlife dispersal area and ecosystem beyond Amboseli National Park especially for elephants and big cats. Due to this buffer zone outside the park, a wide range of species including all the big cats, elephants, large numbers of giraffes, zebra, and antelopes and also the less common animals may be seen such as the long-necked gerenuk gazelle, lesser kudu and African wildcat returned after many years.

The area leased from the community involves maintenance and running cost of the conservancies as well as lease payment to land owners all of which are borne by the company from tourism revenue from guests staying in the Porini Camps.

Through the “Adopt-an-Acre” plan, the company is encouraging wildlife enthusiasts, safari lovers, friends and clients to adopt an acre of land in the conservancy for a year with a monetary donation to the Wildlife Habitat Trust, which manages the fund. The aim is to run this initiative until tourism recovers.

Before the covid-19 outbreak, Gamewatchers Safaris in 2019 directly paid a total of USD 863,783 for monthly rentals for protecting 42,500 acres of land for conservation. In addition, the 240 members of staff in the conservancies and camps drawn from the local Maasai community were paid USD 621,200 in wages per year. This is a total income of close to USD 1.5 million in rents and wages to the community, excluding the additional costs for managing the conservancies and running other community projects.

With the 42,500 acres of land leased contributing an income of approximately USD 1.5 million to the community per year, it means every acre contributes USD 35, with USD 20 channeled to payment of rents and USD 15 to wages. Therefore for a client who wishes to adopt an acre the contribution is USD 35 for 1 acre, 5 acres would be USD 175 and 30 acres USD 1050.

As a special incentive, anyone adopting 30 acres or more receives a credit from Gamewatchers Safaris for the same amount donated, to be used for payment of a stay at any of the Porini Camps in 2021 or 2022.

The success so far

This initiative has already registered great success since its commencement. According to the Wildlife Habitat Trust, as of 31st May 2020 it had received monetary donations from 471 individuals. Many of these have adopted 30 acres and above, which is indeed a very good news!

However, no initiative is devoid of challenges. In the case of “Adopt-an-Acre” plan these include: financial constraints among those who would wish to donate, and the fact that only those who understand the linkages between tourism, conservation and community development feel the enthusiasm and see the importance and urgency to donate.

What you can do to take part in the “Adopt-an-Acre” initiative

It is not known when income from tourism will resume to its pre-pandemic levels, but the silver lining is that these unprecedented times also present opportunities to create an impact in our own small ways. “What can I do to help?” That is a question many interested persons who read about such uplifting stories and want to create an impact often ask. You can be part of this initiative by offering a financial donation, all of which will contribute towards paying rents for the landowners and salaries for the staff. As mentioned if adopting over 30 acres you can make a significant difference now and still have it as a full credit towards a Magical Kenya safari at one or all of the  Porini Camps in the future – a true win win!

If you wish to be part of this initiative, please do this via Donorbox by filling the form available on the company’s website. For any queries or comments regarding this initiative, please feel free to contact the company directly on info@gamewatchers.com.

For more information regarding this important cause please visit the company’s website and social media pages on:

Website: https://www.porini.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/gamewatchers

Twitter: https://twitter.com/porinisafaris

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCxlItg5YCUvo2vFvlJOz3FA

 

Kenya Tourism Federation Webinar

Topic: Tourism now and looking ahead – Conservation and Tourism Linkages

Date: Wednesday 10th June 2020

Time: Starting at 2:30 PM

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused devastating effects in the tourism industry at both global, regional and local levels. Conservation and community elements that have been inextricably linked to tourism for many years are now under threat as a result of these unprecedented events. It is on this background that Kenya Tourism Federation has organized a webinar focusing on the topics briefly described below;

Broad overview of conservation in Kenya

The importance of conservation to tourism cannot be overstated. Kenya is endowed with breathtaking rangelands, which are home to a wide array of wildlife such as lion, elephant and rhino among others. Every year, Kenya receives thousands of guests who come to see these wildlife species, generating revenue for our economy. Part of the revenue generated helps in management of the protected areas such as national parks and conservancies. It is important to understand the overview of Kenya’s protected area system and its linkages with private and community lands, costs of wildlife conservation and the challenges of financing conservation during and post-COVID period.

Linking conservation, communities and tourism

Tourism has always played a critical role in community development by diversifying and boosting local economies in some of Kenya’s most marginalized areas. At the same time, local communities have leased lands, increasing the wildlife habitat and maintaining the ecosystem integrity. This webinar therefore provides an opportunity to understand the genesis of conservancies and current stages of evolution, contribution of tourism to conservation outside Kenya’s Protected Area System, socio-economic development of communities living with wildlife and challenges affecting sustainability of conservancies. In addition, it will also provide thoughts on the way forward and priority actions that various actors need to implement to strengthen the conservancy management model, as well as the future of conservancies during and post COVID-19 pandemic.

Impact of COVID-19 on safari guiding

Tour guides have been at the heart of safaris in our tourism destinations for many years, combining their experience, passion and commitment to responsible tourism to create memorable safari experiences for guests. This topic will therefore provide more insights on the role of safari guides on tourism and conservation, impact of COVID-19 pandemic on tour guiding businesses, and address the way forward with regard to safari guiding.

Implementation of the Single use Plastic Ban in Protected Areas

Following the coming into effect of the ban on single use plastic in protected areas such as National Parks, beaches and forests, tourism operators are all required to comply. This topic will address the negative impacts of single use plastic in protected areas, categories of single-use plastics that are subject to the ban and sustainable alternative solutions that businesses can adopt in their operations.

As the world adjusts to life in lockdowns, these topics are crucial in ensuring sustainability in the tourism and hospitality industry not only in the present but also in the future. It is therefore our hope that you will be part of this important conversation.

Register here – https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_2SiYdsZyQOip8WpoohBfyQ

 

Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife Launches Virtual Tourism

Cabinet Secretary for Tourism and Wildlife, Najib Balala on June 2nd 2020, officially launched a virtual Safari live stream campaign to showcase game safaris in some parks and reserves across the country. The campaign will go on for six weeks across the country and will be part of the ongoing Magic Awaits campaign led by the Kenya Tourism Board.

“This venture which begins here at the Nairobi National Park will allow us to document our diverse wildlife in the National Parks and game reserves, thrilling adventures, beautiful lodges, and unique cultures and conservation projects that Kenya has become world-famous for. We shall be live streaming and sharing this content every week to bring Kenya to Kenyans and to the world at large,” CS Najib Balala said.

Read more about Tourism opportunities in the ‘new normal environment’

 

PR Team

Ecotourism Kenya

Today June 5th Kenya joins the rest of the world to mark the World Environment Day but uniquely so, the ban on single-use plastics (SUPs) in protected areas comes into effect!

As responsible tourism operators, members of Ecotourism Kenya were not taken by surprise by the announcement of the SUP ban one year ago by HE President Uhuru Kenyatta while he was addressing the plenary session of the Women Deliver 2019 Conference in Vancouver, Canada.  To ensure enforceability of the announcement, the Cabinet Secretary Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife Najib Balala through a gazette notice gave the industry up to 5th June 2020 to prepare for the implementation of the ban. As leaders in responsible tourism practices, our members have been practicing the 3Rs of sustainability with measures to monitor and reduce all forms of waste generated at their facilities. Responsible tourism calls for commitment in promoting best practices that are good for the environment, good for business and good for the welfare of the local people.

The adverse effect of poor management and disposal of single-use plastics on the environment is not in question.  In recent years, there has been a global effort to come up with alternatives so as to minimize these impacts. Perhaps the three most important questions that tourism businesses are confronted with include: which single-use plastics have been listed in the ban? What are these negative impacts? And what are the alternatives to single-use plastics that business can adopt for use in their operations. This week we will provide answers to these questions and highlight measures taken by Eco-Certified accommodation facilities in Kenya, as a showcase for best practices and to provide sustainability knowledge and inspiration to other tourism businesses who need to comply with the ban.

 Query one: Which Single-use plastics have been listed in the ban?

The Kenyan government through the Ministry of Environment and Forestry has been in consultation with stakeholders including the plastic manufacturers and has released a Single Use Plastic Implementation Plan.  According to this document, the list of plastics not allowed in protected areas include: PET bottles, disposable cutlery (forks, knives, spoons, chopsticks, straws and beverage stirrers), non-woven plastic carrier bags, cigarettes with plastic filters, plastic cotton bud sticks, expanded polystyrene (EPS) beverage containers, crisps packets, sweet wrappers, confectionary wrappers, sanitary items such as diapers (does not include sanitary pads), lollipop sticks, wet wipes, single use plastic dental flosser, single-use toiletries packaged in plastics such as soaps, lotions or shampoos.

Given that Kenya is a safari destination and most tourists to the parks and conservancy areas prefer spending at least one full day in the wilderness tracking the Big 5, hotels, camps and lodges will have to move with speed to ensure the packaging of picnic lunch boxes adhere to the provision of the ban.

 Query Two: What are the negative impacts of single-use plastics in our protected areas?

The ban on single-use plastics refers to those plastics that are used once then disposed.  Within protected areas, they are either generated directly by visitors and accommodation facilities or indirectly through storm waters from residential areas upstream.

From a biodiversity perspective, improper disposal of plastics along the shores of water bodies such as rivers, lakes and oceans can have adverse impacts on fish, turtles and other organisms. Usually, these living organisms mistake ocean plastic for plastic food or become entangled in them. The ingested plastics then fill their stomachs, preventing them from feeding anymore and potentially leading to their death.

Further, a throw-away culture where wastes such as plastics are disposed of in municipal dumpsites has been engrained in our day-to-day operations for many years. It is important to pause and reflect on this action, because it has had adverse impacts on ground water and surface water resources which provide us with drinking water. The plastic that is disposed has no ability to degrade but rather photodegrade into small micro-plastics which cause water pollution. In areas where there is inadequate supply of treated water, residents usually depend on the water bodies which may be contaminated leading to health effects such as cancer.

Query Three: What are the Alternatives to Single-use Plastics that Business can adopt?

Unlike the COVID-19 which descended on us unawares with no prior knowledge of how to tackle it, the plastic problem has been part of our conversation as responsible tourism operators for a while.  For those who want to adapt to the no zero plastic in their operations, resources are available such as the Ecotourism Kenya Green Directory and international organizations such as Travel without Plastic.

Within our destination, tourism operators can take important steps to reduce the generation of single-use plastic from their operations. Some of the measures include:

Use of refillable water bottles

At the 2019 Ecotourism Kenya annual general meeting, we had a ‘bring your own bottle’ theme and we witnessed the many tourism operators who had already introduced the refillable bottles as an alternative to single use plastic bottles for their guests.  Just before COVID-19 happened, the Kenya Association of Tour Operators was working on modalities to import in bulk refillable water bottles for use by their guests.  Whether the refillable bottle comes at an extra cost to the guest and therefore making our destination more expensive is a debatable issue

 

 

Examples of refillable aluminium water bottles given to guests for use during their stay by Uniglobe Lets Go Travel, Eco Adventures Limited, Elewana Collection and Sunworld Safaris among others. They can carry them away as souvenirs at the end of their stay

 

 

Use of paper, bamboo or stainless steel straws

Paper straws and bamboo straws have in the recent years emerged as sustainable alternatives to plastic straws. This is due to their ability to biodegrade. The use of stainless steel straws is also becoming popular since they can be used more than once but requires proper hygiene.

Use of paper straw at Amboseli Serena Safari Lodge – July 2019

Use of refillable liquid soap containers

The use of plastic miniature shower gels, lotions and shampoos have been a common phenomenon in establishments such as hotels. This practice not only leads to wastage of the toiletries but also increases generation of plastic waste. However, in the recent years it has been quite encouraging to see refillable liquid soap containers being used in most ecorated camps and lodges in Kenya as an alternative.

The measures above are just a few examples of alternatives you can adopt for use in your operations. For more information regarding proposed alternatives to the banned single-use plastics, we encourage you to read page thirteen of the Single-use Plastic Implementation Plan.

If you wish to know about our Eco Certification scheme or for any queries or support on how you can manage plastic and all other forms of waste at your accommodation facility, please drop us an email on standards@ecotourismkenya.org.

 

Ecotourism Kenya is currently updating the Green Directory of green products and services to ensure it remains your first point of reference for your tourism and hospitality procurement.

#StaySafe #BeatPlasticPollution #ZeroPlasticWaste #Ecotourism #ResponsibleTourism