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Development of Africa`s eco-tourism



The ongoing price battle of airlines and tourism industry over the past decades has made trips to the once masked African continent accessible for the average worker in most developed countries. Until recently however, little was done to conserve the reason why everyone wanted to visit the mysterious continent.



Today wildlife documentaries bring the beauty of those unique animals to our living-room and media continuously remind us of the 5to12 o’clock situation. When we travel through Africa we find only a hand full of rhinos individually protected by armed guards where once we found herds of peacefully grazing representatives of species that inhabited the globe before human existence.



Poaching and hunting surely play a role in this reduction, but taking away their territory was the major source of decrease and mass invasion of disrespectful tourists into those last retreats is closing the book.



But people are beginning to understand that if this situation doesn’t change, not only our grandchildren cannot experience these animals in their native surrounding, but also the whole tourism industry can pack in and look for a new place to start from scrap.



Camps, Lodges, Tour-operators and Travel Consultants are beginning to work with Wildlife Organizations to find an environmentally friendly and wildlife conserving solution. Some steps are extremely simple, yet highly effective. It doesn’t take much to replace generators with solar panels or use filters to turn sewage into irrigation water for vegetables growing in the garden of a camp rather than flying them into the camps. The reduction of noise and air pollution brings harmony into the surrounding which is welcomed by both wildlife and guests beside reducing transportation costs since water, vegetables and petrol need to be brought into the parks with trucks and aeroplanes.



Employing and educating locals as guides and drivers brings money to the local community which, until today, would rather see the wildlife dead as it kills their cattle. Profiting from wildlife observation, these locals have an alternative income and it awakens their interest in the survival of wildlife.



Focusing on high spenders tourists in small camps rather than low budget mass tourism makes it much easier to carry out the above steps and this is inevitably the direction both politics and market are leading.



For example the Kenya Tourist Board (KTB) has increased marketing campaigns in countries of high spenders tourists like Germany (ITB), France and Russia (MITT), but also advertised in highly regarded publications like National Geographic.



The regional market recorded a growth of 15.2 per cent in 2005 with arrival figures at 158, 336.



Emerging Markets:



The Emerging Markets cluster activities are aimed at diversifying the Kenya product offer in these new markets by consolidating Kenya`s position as a land of diversity. The Board continues to collaborate with trade partners within the markets and in Kenya to build a product platform. The KTB undertook some key activities in this quarter covering Japan, China and India.



From Japan, the Board executed a key travel trade educational visit in partnership with the industry and other partners in Japan.



In China, the Board focused on enhancing PR, trade educational visit and sales calls and training.



In India, the Board undertook a three City Road-show in February followed by participation at the Outbound Travel Mart (OTM).



Fresh Investment:



As a result of the tourism sector improvement, the industry has responded positively to the increased demand of Kenya as a tourist destination through establishment of new projects.



The image of the Kenyan Coast is changing fast from that of mass tourism to a high value destination.



In Malindi, Dream of Africa operated by Turisanda club of Italy on 24th December 2005 commissioned a 35 room premium value resort with 79 beds which has upgraded the image of Malindi as a destination.



At the North Coast, the Serena Hotel is planning to expand room size to offer better quality and comfort. The hotel also plans to invest in a high value health spa. This development will greatly enhance the image of North Coast and position it as a high value destination.



Several boutique hotels like `The sands at Nomads` and `the Cove at Kinondo` and Ashanti have been established at the South Coast in the recent past.



Kiboko tented beach resort in Kisumu is the latest establishment offering high value experience in Western Kenya, apart from Rondo Retreat in Kakamega Forest, Mfangano Island Camp and Rusinga Lodge in Lake Victoria.



New Marketing Options:



From the growing awareness arise alternative marketing options that carry immense potential. Travel Consultants experience a boom as the demand for individually, ecologically friendly designed trips rises. The high spender tourist demands a refined, personally tailored encounter with wildlife, not an encounter with mass tourism.



The internet opens the door to insider information to everybody and we all vividly make use of it. Yet, it is difficult to find objective information as most websites depend on the commission of bookings. The authors of this article, both having grown up in Kenya, hence decided to dedicate a neutral platform that is striving to provide the full picture.



Their website www.bushdrums.com is funded directly through their companies, allowing them to be independent in their choice of information they provide. Their website provides local news, insider- and insight information on East Africa, as well as detailed information on eco-lodges and conservation projects.



But what makes Bushdrums.com different from other websites is the commitment to supporting and facilitating a neutral platform for all parties involved or affected by conservation projects to express their point of view, hence providing everyone with the full picture.



None Governmental Organizations(NGO’s), Eco-Camps and Lodges, Travel Consultants and many others from all over the world read and contribute to this forum. A solution resolving out of this approach is most satisfying for all parties involved and would therefore increase effectiveness of the protection of wildlife whilst recognising the great benefits of correctly carried out tourism.



Further, the forum includes a section which is limited to registered staff of eco-lodges and NGO’s, providing them with an insider forum where they can share their experiences, success and failures of projects. Many issues are recurrent in one way or another.



Probably in another place the issue has been solved already and their field experience could provide good practice reviews or appropriate technical support to field staff, as well as greater consensus at field level on best operational practice. With such a vast amount of information, its’ founders hope to provide everyone involved in the tourism business with a great tool for the promotion of eco-tourism.



Carsten Schmidt & Nico Pannevis

Founders of www.bushdrums.com

Co-Founder & Managing Director - Travel Media Applications | Website

Theodore is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of TravelDailyNews Media Network; his responsibilities include business development and planning for TravelDailyNews long-term opportunities.

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