, , ,

Building Back Better

Tourism in the Laikipia landscape continues to suffer – a major victim of Covid-19. Here we share helpful resources:

  1. The results of a survey on the prevailing state of the tourism services in the landscape. These results have been shared with County Government and the Kenya Tourism Board to look at ways both can help guide the rebuilding of the sector.
  2. Two GOK documents providing guidance on reopening the sector:

A number of facilities are working with the County Health Department to reopen. Testing is offered by the County at the ASK Showground in Nanyuki for a cost of Ksh 1000. All samples are sent outside of the County for test results, so it takes some days for you to receive the results.

Due to a shortage of corona virus testing kits in the country, both the tests and results are delayed.

Reopening guidance for hotels and restaurants (and forms) can be found here: http://laikipia.go.ke/application-for-re-opening-of-hotels-restaurants/  Forms A and B guide your re-opening regarding health requirements.

Our biggest opportunity and challenge will remain the opening of the lockdown in Nairobi, and how we position ourselves regarding marketing, destination management, health protocols, quality control, and post visit follow-up.

We expect a serious influx of residents to Laikipia to take advantage of our great diversity of offerings – and we should be a pioneer for managing tourism in the “NEW NORMAL”.

Story by

, , ,

Tourism and the Covid Crisis

How many tourism revival webinars have you been attending? What’s really possible within the next two months? Six months? And Longer?

In the Laikipia landscape, this is what’s at risk – jobs and conservation; jobs and community projects; jobs and taxes, permits and levies; jobs and a host of food and service (e.g. transport) value chains; and jobs and families and basic service payments; and jobs and remittances.

There are several points of light that might help us understand next steps:

  1. The Government has formed a task force to examine ways in which we can move forward. As with many national efforts, their comments tend to focus on a grander scale that we use in the Laikipia landscape. Here’s the task force and the decree.
  2. There are KSH 2 Billion set aside for the industry’s revival. 1 Billion is expected to be released as soft-loans. To whom and for how much is unclear. But that pot of money is to be managed by the Tourism Finance Corporation.
  3. Guidelines, protocols and preparedness – The Government Task Force is expected to lead the preparation of guidelines for phased reopening of the sector. The @LaikipiaTourism Association is working with KTB to help develop the protocols for different facilities and tourism services. Our diversity of tourism offerings and services demands a more nuanced and careful set of precautions and possibilities.
  4. The World Trade Organization has issued guidance in the form of global guidelines to open tourism. You can obtain a copy HERE.

Check out the international priorities for opening!! These are very similar to ours!!

  1. Provide liquidity and protect jobs.
  2. Recover confidence through safety & security.
  3. Public-private collaboration for an efficient reopening.
  4. Open borders with responsibility.
  5. Harmonize and coordinate protocols & procedures.
  6. Added value jobs through new technologies.
  7. Innovation and Sustainability as the new normal.

And check out the latest private sector guidance from KEPSA on getting back to business HERE

Got more ideas for Laikipia??  Perhaps a consortium approach to opening specific facilities and areas for Covid-free visits?

Contact the LTA for more information and to engage tourismlaikipia@laikipia.org

Story By

, ,

COVID 19 : Nature, Conservation and the Pandemic – Guest opinion

Even amid the Covid-19 pandemic, wildlife roam free in their protected grounds, and in our imaginations. We can picture an elephant herd at a water hole, lion cubs tussling in tall grass. A nature-loving global public cherish such scenes, and in 2018 wildlife tourism directly contributed US$ 120.1 billion to helping grow the economies of many nations.

But with Covid-19, tourists everywhere have canceled their plans and the tourism industry has crashed to a halt. Some African parks have closed. Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo has barred visitors until June 1—in part to protect its endangered mountain gorillas from possible exposure to Covid-19. It may be years, rather than months, before ecotourism reclaims its role in economic development.

This is bad news for wildlife and local communities that depend on income generated by the parks from tourism. It also brings us face-to-face with a reality we must confront: If we want to conserve nature, we must share the cost of conservation.

To protect people’s welfare and wildlife, we must develop a system that provides adequate financial support to poorer countries for conserving the biodiversity that benefits us all. Such a system is long overdue, for although the benefits of biodiversity and natural areas are universal, the costs of protection are high and disproportionally borne by the poor communities living with wildlife.

The global benefits of conservation have been well documented. The mere existence of species-rich landscapes provides the public opportunities to visit these amazing sites. Vast quantities of carbon stored in trees and soils act as a hedge against climate change. Existing and potential use of natural products for medicinal purposes are huge. Further, wild species, from the largest to the microscopic, interact in ways that maintain delicate-running natural cycles—whether the provision of fresh water or fertile soil—that make Planet Earth habitable for humans.

Of the world’s 17 megadiverse countries, fifteen are developing countries, with some among the world’s least developed nations. Parks are generally underfunded, resulting in insufficient funds to support communities living closest to nature. As a result, communities often pursue land use practices that provide for their immediate needs, but which may undermine wildlife conservation.

For example, in Africa’s Congo Basin, the second largest rainforest in the world, the biggest driver of deforestation is the activities of small-scale farmers.

In contrast, when local communities have enough support, they look after land and its species. This is apparent in Kenya’s Tana River Delta area. Through “The Restoration Initiative,” more than 100 local communities, development partners and the government have collaborated to map sustainable land uses, restore degraded forests, conserve endangered species such as the Tana River Red Colobus monkey, and develop nature-based enterprises such as fish farming and bee keeping. In 2019, the community established the 116,000-hectare Tana Delta Indigenous and Community Conservation Area with the government assisting in financing its management.

If the international community is serious about conserving biodiversity as part of a just and sustainable world, we must get serious about funding conservation. Projects such as The Restoration Initiative show what is possible when adequate funding is available.

Some may say that the conservation of nature is the responsibility of individual countries. That is true, but only part of the picture. Given that such biodiversity provides benefits beyond these countries, and that not all countries can meet the costs of its conservation, it is in the interests of the world to share in the costs.

These costs are substantial. A McKinsey study estimates that current government and philanthropic funding for conservation would have to at least double to reach US$ 100 billion a year, and investable cash flows from conservation projects would need to be up to 30 times greater than today, reaching US$ 200-300 billion per year, to meet the global need for conservation funding.

Such funds could come from a variety of sources, and ultimately form a new class of financial asset, ripe for sustainable investment.

Success would depend on investments that simultaneously reinforce the impact of conservation; providing capital preservation and/or returns on investments and generating cashflows through sustainable use of nature by local communities.

As the world emerges from the Covid-19 pandemic and undertakes the unprecedented task of repairing and stimulating national economies, such investments could prove game-changing for people and nature in many poor countries that are nonetheless rich in biodiversity.

Our leaders in government, finance, business, and philanthropy need to step up and invest in making the planet a ‘safe operating environment’ for all of its occupants, or suffer the consequences of escalating decline.

Johan Robinson, Chief of the Global Environment Facility Biodiversity and Land Degradation Unit at UN Environment, argues for the need for a system that provides adequate financial support to all countries for conserving the biodiversity that benefits us all – but particularly those countries with the biggest burden.

 

, ,

Ol Pejeta Conservancy Calls For Creativity to Support Conservation : Art of Survival Competition

If you are between the ages of 5 and 18, an aspiring artist and looking for a project to sink your teeth into as well as do good for conservation in this time of international crisis; then this is for you!

Ol Pejeta Conservancy has rolled out a children’s competition dubbed The Art of Survival that is currently ongoing and will run until the end of July 2020. This competition is spearheaded by the conservancy with support from David Shephard Wildlife Foundation through their Art of Survival program.  Children across the world are being called upon to take part in this global competition to raise money for wildlife and the environment.

Through artwork or in written form, Ol Pejeta Conservancy is asking applicants to create pieces that contemplate extinction or the role of humans in living more sustainably on our planet.

The winners of this completion will be rewarded with a once-in-a-lifetime holiday in Kenya with their family.

For more information on the Art of Survival Competition and the Terms and Conditions on how to apply click here

To apply directly for this completion through the Ol Pejeta Website click here

 

 

, ,

Tourism, Wildlife Conservation and Covid 19

Tourism has become one of the country’s biggest Corona Virus victims. It has exhibited all the symptoms – shortness of breath, fatigue, fevered calls for help, and a high temperature of anxiety about the future.

We are all scrambling, trying to figure out ways to maintain this sector, and in Laikipia, in particular, we are trying to figure ways to fill the strong $$ contribution that the tourism sector plays in conservation, employment, corporate social responsibility and county revenue.

This is a great opportunity to rethink our Kenya world of tourism – a chance to reflect and “build back better.”  But are we discussing, let alone working towards the NEW Normal? A world characterized by fewer international guests; decreased fuel costs? New health regulations? Fewer surviving businesses, fewer jobs, less external support for wildlife conservation?

Think about it. If the GOK loses tourism revenue, will there be a proportional decrease in the federal budget for our parks, reserves and sanctuaries?

Will more of our citizens turn to bushmeat for sustenance in the face of the Virus, the locusts, and the floods?

The Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife is attempting to manage the crisis – and opened the first public discourse on the subject. Here is what the Minister and the experts say.

We believe that now is the time for an interdisciplinary approach to our tourism and conservation sector – not just the tourism business sector, but conservationists, joined by capital market experts, joined by youth, by public health practitioners, and others.

What do you say? We look forward to hearing from you.

Story By

 

, ,

The Great Grevy’s Zebra Rally 2020 Counties, Conservancies, Communities and Citizens Can Make A Difference.

An image of the rare Grevy’s Zebra spotted by the Laikipia Forum team during the 2020 Great Grevy’s Rally.
This Zebra was located in Moibei, Samburu County

Kenya is home to over 90% of the world’s remaining Grevy’s Zebras. The 3rd Great Grevy’s Rally will help us determine the population health of this endangered species.

Laikipia Forum joined other conservation organizations and conservancies from Laikipia, Samburu, Isiolo, Meru and Marsabit counties for the 2020 edition of the Great Grevy’s Zebra rally. The rally was held on January 25th and 26th 2020 and brought together citizens from across the globe, conservancy organizations, county governments, academic and private sector institutions for this once in a lifetime experience. This year’s rally was joined by the British Army Training Unit in Kenya (BATUK) with their families participating!

The rally also included Taita Taveta County and Ethiopia as additional target areas. Grevy’s occur naturally in the Afar areas of Hararghe province in Ethiopia; the Taita population has been introduced.

Some 150 citizen scientist teams were allocated various counting blocks within the counties where the Grevy’s Zebras occur. Each team is equipped with a GPS enabled camera and a special set of instructions – to photograph all the Grevy’s Zebras they come across, with a particular focus on the stripe patterns of the right side. Since each zebra pattern is unique, the pictures obtained from the field will be processed and analysed to determine the exact number, sex, age, distribution, range, and relative fitness of all Grevy’s counted in Kenya.

The Grevy’s zebra – easily distinguished by its thin, elegant stripes, striking frame and gait – once freely roamed much of northern Kenya, southern Ethiopia and western Somalia. In Kenya alone, it is estimated we had as many as 15,000 individuals in the 1970s. Today, only a small fraction of that number remains. Until a few years ago, it had been difficult to know exactly how many Grevy’s zebras exist in Kenya. However, with computer science, artificial intelligence, and GPS cameras, we have the ability to accurately estimate the population, and therefore inform management decisions that will shape the future of this zebra in Kenya, and of course, its ultimate survival on the planet.

The first biennial Great Grevy’s Rally, held across four counties in 2016, and helped conservationists establish that Kenya was home to 2,350 Grevy’s Zebras.

The second rally held in 2018, was expanded to include more areas, and enabled us to monitor the species across its vast range, where 2,812 Grevy’s zebras were photographed and identified.

The results from both events have indicated a stable population for Kenya, and have been a cause for optimism for the conservation of this rare zebra.

As a continuation in engaging citizen scientists in the collection of this invaluable scientific data, the conservation organisations working in the landscape that is home to the Grevy’s zebra came together once again, with invaluable support from their respective county governments, to organise the rally.

Get ready for the 2020 results to be released later this year, after the computers go through more than 50,000-80,000 images!

Big infrastructure projects, planned for the north, will likely impact the success of the Grevy’s status, so please follow their plight with us. Keep informed; stay engaged!

 

 

 

 

, ,

Tourism Regulatory Authority (TRA) Adventure Sports and Tented Camp Standards

TRA is at it again…………developing more standards, guidelines and regulations for our Kenya Tourism HOTSPOT Destination 2020. We welcome the initiative, as there are increasing numbers of black-market and fly-by-the-seat-of-their-pants operators.

Draft standards have been posted, with public response expected on January 31. Unfortunately, the distribution of the guidelines and standards were only released to KATO members, and so a good portion of the adventure tourism and tented camp businesses in our landscape did not have a chance to participate in the feedback. This is a lost opportunity, as we are renowned for our adventure products and tented presentations.

You can find these draft standards here:

 

The Laikipia Tourism Association did get a chance to respond to the adventure tourism standards. Key adventure tourism providers, at the top of their profession, reside in Laikipia, and none of them were previously counselled. Their response to KATO and the TRA can be found here.

https://gallery.mailchimp.com/d53d01de8887e62f430469897/files/d2e89ef9-10de-4f6a-ae0f-e32ea8deeee8/Final_TRA_feedback_on_Adventure_tourism.docx

Now is the time for the Ministry and its instruments to use the experience and self-regulation of the professional tourism industry to inform regulations, guidance and standards. There are many international standards from which to draw, and we don’t have to keep creating standards from scratch. Kenya professionals already offer top-notch, safe adventures, and can help the industry with operating standards.

TRA – engage us, and we will deliver!!

, ,

Kenya Tourism Board Strategic Plan Validation

The Kenya Tourism Board is finalizing its national tourism strategy.  The Strategic Plan (here) is designed to take us from 2018- 2023. Check out the tourism statistics for this same period on slide 39.

A Validation Meeting to review the draft plan was conducted in Nairobi in December at the Fairmont/Norfolk Hotel. LTA members attended.

Overview: the Plan calls for a “reinvestment” in many of our existing tourism core values. It importantly highlights the improvements of a domestic tourism market.

In particular, it calls for greater collaboration with the Kenya private sector as this is noted as one of the strategic issues:

Strategic Issue 12: KTB Misalignment with private tourism and travel industry sector

Strategy issues to be addressed:

  • Deliver an operationally excellent value-added portfolio of services to local industry to convince them that KTB is their preferred marketing partner interested in improving their business performance.
  • Convince different types of stakeholders that KTB understands their specific needs and gives timely answers to them through the most effective channels.
  • Make communication between KTB, the tourism industry and other stakeholders highly effective, supported by the most appropriate channels, with owned platforms as the main pillar.

Strategic Objective: Improve participation, ownership and marketing performance of the Kenya Tourism Industry and other stakeholders.

Sadly, the plan does not yet take into account the values of an industry that needs to do better in its support of sustainability and green tourism.  There is no emphasis on the major elements of a strong, sustainable tourism industry. We failed to find a focus on (environment) energy conservation and management, recycling, water, waste, etc. (economic) employment, skills development, training, service delivery, destination marketing, etc.; and (culture) investments in the promotion and understanding of our communities, cultural diversity, history, social structures, legends, and beliefs.

Sustainable tourism is defined as hitting all four cornerstones of this industry – Commerce, Culture, Conservation and Community. Learn more about leading models of sustainable tourism here: https://www.thelongrun.org/.

Laikipia is increasingly characterized by this model of tourism – making us a truly unique destination in Kenya.

 

 

, ,

Save the Rhino International and the Association of Private and Community Land Rhino Sanctuaries host Important Rhino Conservation Meeting for Kenya and the Greater Laikipia area

Wondering about the future of rhino conservation in Kenya and the planned goal of 2000 black rhinos in Kenya by 2030? How realistic is this goal, and what needs to be done to achieve it?  {Kenya Black Rhino Action Plan }

These were some of the questions raised by more than 30 professionals at the meeting held at the Mpala Research Center in November. Rhino biology, habitat, population dynamics, translocation techniques, security, and KWS policy and guidelines were all examined in some detail. Additional information about rhino population growth, translocation, and custody was shared by visitors from Southern Africa.

As of the end of 2018 – here are some key statistics regarding black rhino conservation in the Country:

Rhino lands total Area (Km2)
State lands (#9 populations) 375 16,963
Private lands (#4 populations) 331 894.4
County lands (#1 population) 45 1,510
Community lands (#1 population) 15 107
TOTAL (# 15 populations) 766 19,474.4

 

This total population of Eastern black rhinos (Diceros bicornis michaeli) forms part of a national rhino population including southern white rhinos and two remaining northern white rhinos. The total at the end of 2018 was 1390 individuals.

The Greater Laikipia Landscape features prominently in possible plans to increase the area under rhino conservation – but key issues of communities, counties, cultures and costs prevail. About half of the present population of black rhinos can be found in our landscape.

Existing black rhino conservation areas

 

Stay tuned for the final report resulting from this meeting.

 

 

 

 

 

, ,

Laikipia Tourism Association General Assembly Meeting; A moment of self-reflection

More than 35 members of the Laikipia Tourism Association joined in a meeting to review their status, membership and relationship with the County Government of Laikipia.

The Laikipia Tourism Association is an assembly of tourism service providers in the landscape with a commitment to “bringing together all tourism operators and destinations for increased collaboration and to influence the directions and contributions of this sector in the County and to the Greater Laikipia Landscape’s development and management.” The Association promotes sustainable tourism, and the Greater Laikipia Landscape as a preferred destination for visitors.

Three issues dominated the discussions:

  1. Laikipia County taxes and levies that were adversely affecting the tourism sector.
  2. Calls for a revived and increased membership and elections of a new executive committee early in 2020.
  3. Identification of an Advisory Council that will help promote and guide the Association, and strengthen its advocacy at County and National levels.

Several new members were added to the Association’s ranks, including Penguin House, Serena/Sweetwaters, and Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club.

The county tourism bill of 2015 continues to languish despite the pledge of County Government to ensure its passage. The bill would formalize the relationship between County Government and the tourism sector through the formation of a Laikipia County Tourism Board. The Board would help to organize the important coordination needed for tourism data collection and statistics, training and skills development, inter-agency cooperation, economic participation, registration, circuits, tourism information, etc. See the draft bill here.

Unfortunately, the Laikipia Governor and CEC for Trade, Tourism and Cooperatives had confirmed their participation, but both failed to attend the event. Thus there is no further update on the status of the tourism bill, coordination with “Destination Laikipia”, or the MOU that the CEC for Tourism has been promoting with the LTA.

Stay tuned for more information early in the New Year!