World Tourism Day 2017, Focuses on “Sustainable Tourism”
The World Tourism Day this year focuses on how sustainable tourism can contribute to development and it is held in Doha, Qatar. Yes you got me right. Sustainable tourism is defined as tourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and host communities. It should thus make optimal use of environmental resources, respect host communities and ensure viable, long-term economic operations so that benefits are equitably distributed among all stakeholders.
It’s very important for us to have a look back and feel the impact of tourism across the globe. Over the past six decades, tourism has experienced continued expansion and diversification, and it has become one of the fastest growing and most important economic sectors in the world, benefiting destinations and communities worldwide. International tourist arrivals worldwide have grown from 25 million in 50’s to nearly 1.2 billion two years ago. Similarly, international tourism revenues earned by destinations have gone up.
The most important aspects of “Sustainable Tourism” is its positive instrument towards the eradication of poverty, the protection of the environment and the improvement of quality of life, especially in developing countries. Well designed and well run tourism can make a significant contribution to the four dimensions of sustainable development, economic, social, conservation and environmental, has close linkages to other sectors and can create decent jobs and generate trade opportunities. It is therefore essential for all actors, including companies operating in the sector, to be aware of opportunities and responsibilities alike, and to act accordingly so that their actions leave a positive mark on the society in which they operate and ensure the sustainability of the destination and their businesses.
Tourism has the positive side effect of encouraging wildlife conservation efforts. Tourists visit Kenya to see animals and landscapes unique to the country, giving the government incentive to protect them. More importantly we have seen an increase of cultural tourism. These unique cultural exchanges between Kenyan citizens and tourists also helps paint a positive picture of the country overseas, fighting the stereotypical starving African child image commonly associated with our continent, as well as broadening Kenyan horizons by introducing them to cultures outside our own. The exposure that Kenya enjoys especially at these digital age is immerse and suitability of the ecosystems that support the tourism is at the bottom line.
Though the incentive is primarily financial rather than humanitarian, forests, games parks, and cultural heritage sites are preserved as potential sources of income and will continue to remain as so, to the benefit of Kenyan locals, culture and history. However this creates a unique challenges of its own unfortunately, tourist visits also cause a great disruption to wildlife, as natural habitats are invaded for the sake of viewing and photographing it. Likewise, tourists’ preferences for certain commonly visited places like the Maasai Mara and the Kenyan coast puts pressure on local resources in those areas. Congestion and displacement of locals from their homes are just two ways this plays out.
It’s a classical example of the Maasai people who the government has recently begun to resettle after loss of their land, much of which was taken over to develop tourist-oriented activities and facilities. My thoughts more concentrated in Kenyan the World preferred tourist destination. Clearly, there are two sides to the Kenyan tourism coin: tourists are an important part of the Kenyan economy and they directly and indirectly help to preserve the country’s history and economy, but this comes at a price. Tourism often has less than pleasant implications. As the more conservative Kenyan cultures, integrate with the more liberal foreign cultures. The more permissive Western approach to clothing, partying and sex could possibly offend a deeply traditional Kenyan. In the long run we won’t have anything to showcase, mind you sustainability is not about wildlife and environments only but cultures and traditions as well.
In my conclusion I wish to remind the entire players in the world or tourism to think the sustainability part of the tourism equation with an open mind. Come to think of it we can’t sunbath in a dirty beach, and so with the ecosystems be destroyed. The example would be endless. I wish to commend NEMA for its plastic ban as the effect will get us far. So let’s enjoy today and we sustain tourism for future generations.
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