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 firstname.lastname@example.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.