EXPLORING NICHE TOURISM

There are different types of tourism. Some of the popular ones in Kenya are wildlife, beach, MICE tourism among others. Over the years, other forms of tourism have emerged. Indeed, this is great news as diversification of tourism products breaks the monotony of the usual, provides new thrilling experiences, and keeps guests engaged and coming back for more. Let’s briefly take a look at some upcoming forms of tourism.

ASTRO TOURISM

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Astrotourism involves viewing the night sky, particularly the stars and their formations, and visiting facilities that enable this and provide astronomical knowledge and experience. Some Kenyans have enjoyed the night sky views while upcountry or during travel to less developed areas that aren’t subject to man-made lights. Astrotourism purely focuses on enjoying the view the night sky has to offer. It may have been accidental or an added traveling bonus to witness constellation beauty. However, there is potential for this to grow as niche tourism within the country. Examples of areas that provide a rich night sky scenery include Northern Kenya, Limuru, Samburu, Western Kenya, mountainous regions like Mt.Kenya among others. Destinations that meet the following criteria are where one can view the breathtaking scenes; low humidity, high altitude and no light pollution.

The Nairobi Planetarium by the Travelling Telescope, sustainably built with bamboo opened to the public in early 2020. It was excitedly received with full booking within an hour. Targeted not only to children, they offer experiential tourism to everyone. There are also plans underway, by the Technical University of Kenya, to construct the first observatory in the country. Mt. Nyiro and Mt.Kulal are among the sites being considered as the location for the observatory. Its completion and operation will present tourism differently and freshly to local Kenyans. Stargazing activities are low-energy actions such as yoga, meditation, reading books, and relaxing. Astronomy intertwines with Kenyan culture as well. An example of ethnoastronomy would be the Samburu, nomadic in nature, observe moon patterns and directions, have a lunar eclipse tradition of having the mother and children stay awake till the father wakes up. Another common tradition is the naming of children according to events that take place in the sky. There may be such beliefs concerning astronomy in our diverse communities as well.

AGRO TOURISM

Photo credits: Thayu Farm Hotel

Also known as Agritourism, this type of tourism includes visits to agricultural farms or ranches. This was popularly included in educational trips for primary schools. However, over the years, with better tour packaging and marketing, the target market has included adults as well, in form of small groups, couples, etc. Formerly, the farm trip would start from the crop growing on the farm to being processed in the factory. Examples include coffee farms, rice farms, pineapple farms, etc. Kenya’s most common economic activity is farming and she exports several food items i.e. tea and non-food items such as flowers. It may seem like nothing new will be brought to the table to excite local tourists. You should not be quick to dismiss this as an enjoyable and affordable tourist activity. There is plenty of opportunities to grow this form of tourism. It will call for creativity and innovation on the part of tour operators, marketers, and the farms to be used as a destination as well. There have been agricultural shows where different farmers and players in the agricultural sector came together to hold exhibitions on various agricultural items or machinery e.g. the county shows organized by the Agricultural Society of Kenya. These events usually draw in everyone, not just those active in the agricultural scene. This may be an indicator that there is a market geared towards agriculture. Of interest, is farm stays. They offer a cozy and unconventional accommodation option.

WELLNESS TOURISM

Wellness tourism is tourism done in pursuit of maintaining and enriching one’s physical and emotional health. Not to confuse medical tourism which is reactive, wellness tourism is proactive and seeks to better one’s well-being. Previously packaged and sold to high-end clients, it is not exclusively an expensive luxurious experience that is out of reach. It takes into account the physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, social, and environmental aspects. The activities that are associated with this include but are not limited to healthy eating, exercise/physical activity, volunteering, meditation, yoga, spa treatment, spiritual activities, etc. An example of this would be a visit to the natural hot springs in Baringo. Spa tourism was identified by GlobalData[MW1]  as a growing sub-sector in early 2020 as from 2015 to 2019, spa visitation grew at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.5%.

INCENTIVE TOURISM

This type of tourism can be factored in as wellness tourism, a sub-sector of MICE. It includes a trip or vacation given to employees to reward or motivate them for work. In Kenya, in the pre-Corona era, it was famously done in form of day retreats. The trips are made to serene outdoor destinations to hold team-building exercises and have relaxation moments. As the economy slowly recovers, incentive tourism will make its way back to the arena. Tourism service providers should seize the opportunity to fashion innovative, new packages geared towards the working-class market.

Photo credits: Premier Getaways

All these forms of tourism have a common factor in them, they involve the environment or nature. Therefore, it is imperative that they practice responsible tourism. Incorporating sustainable practices will ensure proper management of natural resources and their longevity. These are exciting types of tourism that have the potential to grow if approached sustainably, packaged creatively and marketed well. What other forms of tourism are likely to be on the rise? Let us know in the comments below.

*Ethnoastronomy- a branch of astronomy that focuses on the relationship between astronomy and cultural beliefs and practices.

Thank you for reading!


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