County governments have been urged to focus on culture to boost the tourism sector.
Tourism Principal Secretary (PS) Safina Kwekwe underscored the need to tap into the huge potential of Kenya’s cultural heritage for growth by promoting sustainable cultural tourism.
She said the 47 devolved units have the responsibility to ensure that ‘our cultural heritage is preserved for posterity’.
Kwekwe noted that counties are home to important tourist and cultural attractions that have great potential to improve the economic situation of residents through the development of sustainable cultural tourism initiatives.
She said the cultural heritages include crafts, festivals and traditions, art, food and natural medicine.
She was speaking on Wednesday at the Shimba Hills National Game Reserve in Kwale during the Chenda Chenda festival that brought together the nine sub tribes of the Mijikenda community.
Chenda Chenda festival is an annual event celebrated on the 9th of September every year in the coastal region. Chenda Chenda is a Mijikenda word meaning nine and refers to the nine tribes of Mijikenda living in the Coast region.
Kwekwe was accompanied by her counterparts Prof. Fred Sigor (Wildlife) and Josephta Mukobe (Culture and Heritage).
The Tourism PS noted that cultural tourism is a growing segment that offers the potential for diversifying from the traditional beach and safari tourism products.
“Cultural tourism is a growing segment because the diverse Kenyan communities have history, heritage and culture that needs to be fostered through cultural festivals” she said.
Kwekwe noted that the national government is working hand in hand with the county governments to make sure tourism is revived in the coastal counties of Mombasa, Kwale, Kilifi and Lamu especially after it was hit by Covid-19 pandemic.
Mukobe said there is a need to bring together all the diverse ethnic communities in the counties to showcase their rich and diverse cultures and interact with each other to minimize disharmony and conflicts.
She observed that there is a strong demand for cultural tourism as more and more foreign and domestic tourists seek authentic cultural experiences.
By Hussein Abdullahi