Ecotourism Kenya (EK) is encouraging local communities to actively participate in the promotion of local tourism through Community-Based Organizations (CBOs).
EK Chief Executive Officer Grace Nderitu said that the aim of her organization was to ensure that communities get to benefit from tourism from the grassroots level by engaging in cultural exchanges and environmental conservation.
Speaking during the closure of a weeklong training workshop on the hospitality industry for Twala Tenebo Cultural Women Group in Laikipia North Sub County facilitated by World Vision Thursday, Ms. Nderitu added that the concept of ecotourism is the idea that the participation of local communities is of very great importance.
“There is no tourism where we do not integrate the community as well as take care of the environment, so the scenario here at Twala women group is that they have been able to take care of the preservation of culture in terms of dressing, beadwork and showcasing what environment conservation can do to tourism to promote livelihoods,” the EK CEO said.
She added that the women group had been trained on business practices to enable them run their operations commercially.
“It’s important for them to take tourism as a business and see how they can gain from it. Most of them are unemployed and have managed to get employment from this cultural centre in terms of products and services they are selling,” she added.
Ms. Nderitu noted that the training was timely to the women group as they had accommodation facilities ranging from Maasai manyattas to three-bedroomed houses where they take care of up to 20 guests at a go and also have camping facilities for tourists as well and would go a long way in empowering them to run the facility as a sustainable tourist outfit.
Twala Tenebo Cultural Women Group vice chairlady Magdalene Pois welcomed the training where the group also entered into a business partnership with Nanyuki based Beisa hotel where the cultural centre would play host to guests for camping and accommodation in offering out of town experience to tourists.
“We are now empowered and better equipped to handle more visitors at the centre as a result of this training and are now looking forward to attracting more tourists for culture nights’ events in future,” Pois said.
Beisa hotel director Gilbert Mutembei said that the partnership with Twala Cultural Women Centre would be beneficial both ways as the centre would benefit from visitors recommended to it while the hotel would have an avenue for an out of town experience for guests.
World Vision Programme Manager in charge of Laikipia County Simon Mbuki said that his organization was keen on promoting the business angle and ecotourism services especially for women groups.
“We come in to facilitate the business environment of the ecotourism groups to expand their businesses through empowerment like the training we have done here at Twala,” Mbuki said.
By Martin Munyi