Kenya celebrated the 2017 UNWTO World Tourism Day on 27th September 2017 by showcasing the innovative leaders in sustainable tourism that were recognized in an Eco Warrior Award Gala dinner theme Magical Night Experience. Serena Beach Resort & Spa emerged the winner of SDG14 which is; Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.

Serena Beach Resort & Spa (SBRS) which is under Serena Hotels, offers quality accommodation, conference and holiday solutions in an up-market resort. The facility therefore promotes tourism potential, serves as an economic engine, pioneers for development and growth in remote or neglected areas, and is committed to developing human resources and a good steward of the environment.

Serena Beach Resort & Spa is located in on Shanzu Beach just 30 kilometers from the city of Mombasa. It is among the Serena Hotels that has benefiting from the tourism arm of the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (AKFED). Serena is involved in several activities to ensure the protection of the ocean and its inhabitants.

Community Based Sea Turtle Conservation

The project has turned a group of fishermen previously all turtle egg poachers as turtle nest protectors and they patrol the beaches 24/7 to protect the turtle nests in-situ. The fishermen have gone through various awareness levels to reach this level.

Through the project, Serena hotels advised them to form a self-help group known as “Kamukunji Self-Help Group”. Fishermen who participate in reporting and protecting nests are paid, thus increasing their income and benefitting their families. Some have been able to send their children to school and improve overall livelihood.

SBRS also purchased 2 Chest Freezers and installed electricity for the local fishermen who support the Project. This has helped them receive a better yield for their fish farming activities as this prevents their catch from getting spoiled.

SBRS has engaged other partners e.g. World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Ocean Sole, Kenya Marine Services, Kuruitu community to ensure modern fishing methods are used by the fishermen and overall awareness of importance of sea turtles is enhanced.

Nest Monitoring

Since inception, 407 sea turtle nests (320 Green, 46 Hawksbill and 41 Olive Ridley) have been reported. 52,524 eggs have so far been secured, with 43,691 turtle hatchlings (83%) released into the Indian Ocean.

Awareness:

SBRS offers weekly lectures on turtle conservation to guests by a resident naturalist on site. SBRS offers environmental training to staff and the communities around to create understanding on the importance of environmental responsibility.

The judges’ comments:

The applicant’s project supports marine conservation by protecting sea turtles (Programs/ innovation for supporting conservation of aquatic ecosystems and threatened species) through supporting fishermen previously poaching sea turtles. They are supported to engage in alternative fishing activities, protect nesting areas, marine patrols and maintenance of a sea turtle hatchery. The project assists with the monitoring of endangered green turtles and critically endangered hawksbill and leatherback turtle species, contributing to the long-term conservation of these species

The ocean with its many uses, gets challenges in equal measure. For instance, agrochemicals used on land, plastic products carelessly discarded and sometimes unmanaged sewage ends up in the ocean. Great discipline and commitment to ensure this great ecosystem is safeguarded for maximum productivity of habitats like corals and mangroves.

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