Tourism Sector Support programme
Set against the backdrop of Mt Kenya, Laikipia is one of the most important areas for biodiversity in Kenya, and has abundant and diverse wildlife. The area hosts the highest populations of endangered species in the country.
Laikipia is also increasingly being recognized as one of the country's foremost safari destinations. It is home to some of Africa's most luxurious safari lodges and camps, and hosts 5 community owned lodges.
Wildlife is free to roam between ranches, conservancies and community lands, and the region offers visitors the freedom and space to walk, ride, cycle and camp.
Tourism's benefits for Laikipia and its communities
The area welcomes about 86,000 visitors every year and its tourism demonstrates the economic viability of wildlife conservation by providing employment and income for many residents.
- Laikipia's tourism employs approximately 1300 people, creating approximately 196m Kenya Shillings in wage earnings per year. Each employee has an average of 5 dependants meaning that through employment about 6500 people are directly dependent on tourism.
- Laikipia's local economy benefits from supplying groceries, vegetables, meat, animal feed, hardware supplies, vehicle fuel and spares to tourism operations, earning regional towns and villages approximately 162m Kenya shillings per year.
- The tourism sector contributes to the wider social and infrastructure development on the region by investing approximately 225 m Kenya shillings annually in activities such as security, water management, fencing, public road maintenance, healthcare, education and enterprise development.
Many tourism ventures within Laikipia can boast of projects that are at the forefront of conservation tourism. LWF has brokered groundbreaking partnerships between private investors and Maasai communities while sensitively balancing luxury travel and economic development. These partnership have resulted in the development of world class community owned projects such as Il Ngwesi, Tassia, Koija Star beds, Ol Gaboli Community Bandas and The Sanctuary at Ol Lentille.
Through an increased understanding of the value of wildlife, communities in Laikipia have ensured that wildlife numbers have not only been sustained but in many cases increased. People from different backgrounds and cultures have come together to manage and sustainably use natural resources, and have actively engaged in their protection and restoration.
The Laikipia Wildlife Forum's Tourism Sector Support Programme
The primary objective for Laikipia Wildlife Forum's (LWF) involvement in tourism is to encourage the industry to support wildlife & environmental conservation across Laikipia. In order to support Laikipia's tourism industry, LWF focuses on 2 main areas of work.
LWF invests in the 'Laikipia brand' by communicating its unique and competitive identity. Laikipia has about 40 tourism operations and approximately 1200 beds – these operations are typically small, exclusive, low impact and environmentally conscious. The range includes community owned/managed safari lodges, tented camps, ranch houses and larger hotels.
LWF's destination marketing activities include:
- maintenance and development of the tourism website www.laikipiatourism.com.
- distribution of news and promotional products such as the quarterly Laikipia Tourism E-news, factsheets, brochures and maps.
- representation and attendance at travel shows both locally and overseas.
- partnering with Kenya Tourist Board in marketing and positioning Laikipia.
- communication with, and visits to locally based tour operators and travel agents.
- development of promotional products such as the Laikipia road map and coffee table book.
- Supporting tourism operations.
The other key task under this programme is to keep Laikipia tourism members informed on any new developments within the national tourism environment.
2 areas that have been addressed are:
Risk management: Building awareness on risk exposure and how to manage it with particular emphasis on liability insurance
Legal requirements: Sharing information on new legislation, guidance on policy and encouraging compliance.
Sandra Obudo – Tourism Sector Support Programme Manager
Responsible Tourism: 10 points of commitment - active contribution towards conservation