In January 2017, The New York Times published a list of 52 must-visit destinations in the world.
For years, Laikipia’s “eco-tourism” was a beneficiary of donor support. Pamphlets, maps, coffee table books, promotional videos, trade fair attendance, and websites were all accomplished with taxpayer dollars/euros. LWF members and LWF tourism membership covered about 2%-4% of the total value of these donor subsidies.
In June 2014, these subsidies came to an end. Donors told LWF that 10 years was enough to develop an environmental enterprise that could stand on its own, and cover its basic costs.
In 2015, LWF took an initiative started by its Board, and worked with Conservation Capital on a 10 year Master Plan for Sustainable Tourism in Laikipia. The County Government was engaged on the development of tourism legislation tailored for the County, and a Tourism Task Force was formed in order to lay the foundation for sustainable tourism in the County.
Two years later, the tourism legislation still flounders in the County Assembly. The County has not adopted the Tourism Strategy but, the private sector remains engaged and active.
Using the Task Force established for the Strategy, and capitalising on its members, the Laikipia Tourism Association (LTA) has emerged. The LTA will soon become the vehicle for all sustainable tourism efforts of the private sector in Laikipia. Its goal is to build Laikipia to become the most diversified, sustainable tourism destination in Kenya.
Combining all forms of tourism in Laikipia, the LTA is expected to be the interface with County Government, National Government, and, as needed, with international tourism entities. The Association is also the private sector arm of the County Tourism Board called for in the County tourism legislation. It is expected to work with the County on issues of overlap – energy, waste, infrastructure, revenue generation and taxation, marketing and promotion, as well as environmental compliance and the adoption of incentives for the continued “greening” of the industry.
The LTA will soon have its own managing committee, with a full-time manager employed by the Association. Membership benefits include annual information on tourism performance, registration, and standards compliance. The LTA will also negotiate financial benefits, and serve as a representative to County and National Government on rates, levies, training and capacity building.
LWF will serve as a secretariat in the initial years to help keep operational costs down, and to provide accounting and admin services that are established to international and national requirements.
The first meeting of the LTA membership will be held on March 9, at 2pm, at the Nanyuki Sports Club. All tourism providers are welcome.
Watch this space for regular updates on this new vehicle that will carry Laikipia forward as a sustainable tourism leader, not just for conservancies, but for all tourism services in the County!