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Culture and Conservancy in Kenya

June 17, 2010 By: Jena Tesse Fox

After meeting with representatives from Kenya at Indaba last month, Travel Agent was invited to a special luncheon with the Kenya Tourism Board where we got to chat with some more specialists from the African nation.

Andrew Wanyonyi, County Treasurer of Narok County, praised Kenya’s wildlife and culture with equal enthusiasm, and pointed out that the annual migrations of animals give visitors a chance to see “Nature at its best.” Beyond that, he said the native people of Kenya—including the Maasai, Turkana and Pokot peoples—hold onto their culture and will even welcome visitors into their homes to offer a genuine cultural experience. (And there are plenty of different experiences available among the 42 communities of tribes.) Groups visiting Kenya, he added, can get involved in local communities as part of voluntourism efforts.

Rajay Thethy, marketing director of Safari Trails, a boutique inbound tour operator based in Nairobi, talked about how visitors can get personalized experiences for just about every interest: photography, birding, family travel, even treks to Uganda to see gorillas.

The guest  speaker for the event was Dr. M.A. Sanjayan, lead scientist for the Nature Conservancy Organization and the Africa program. Dr. Sanjayan talked about the company’s conservation efforts in Kenya (their biggest investment in Africa, to the tune of $30 million), and discussed the importance of responsible tourism. Conserving natural resources, he explained, promotes tourism, which in turn promotes yet more conservancy.

The efforts seem to be working: Kenya’s inbound numbers from the U.S. are up 36 percent, and last year more than 102,000 people visited the country.

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