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Sunday, February 05 2023

Kenya banking on cultural heritage to shore up tourist numbers

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Nairobi: Kenya will leverage the rich culture of its more than 40 ethnic communities alongside the presence of world-renowned prehistoric sites to boost tourist arrivals, officials said.

Najib Balala, the cabinet secretary in the Ministry of Wildlife and Tourism said that as part of the sector’s diversification, the government will develop cultural products that can appeal to local and foreign visitors, reports Xinhua news agency.

“Kenya has over 40 ethnic groupings and with this comes a cultural richness that is loved, and that people from across the world want to experience,” Balala remarked during the handing over of UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Best Tourism village certificate to the prehistoric Olorgesailie village located in Kajiado county, south-east of the capital, Nairobi.

He said that Olergesaille was among 44 villages that were recognized by UNWTO during its 2021 general meeting in Madrid, Spain, adding that the prehistoric site has reaffirmed Kenya’s reputation as cradle of man.

Decades ago, archaeologists unearthed egg-shaped and razor-sharp hand axes at Olorgesailie that were more than one million years old in their quest to understand the evolution of man.

The abundance of tools at the prehistoric site provided fresh insight into the hunter-gatherer occupation of the early man and his evolution over a period spanning more than one million years.

Balala noted that Olorgesailie village and other archeological sites have provided an alternative experience to tourists as the sector gradually recovered from pandemic related disruptions.

He said the government was committed to growth of cultural and archaeological tourism as a means to boost foreign exchange earnings and create jobs for skilled youth.

Betty Radier, CEO of the Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) said that sprucing up of the country’s prehistoric sites had gone overdrive to ensure they had a steady flow of local and international visitors.

According to Radier, sustainability of the tourism sector in a pandemic era hinges on diversification, revamping transport infrastructure, enhanced security and a predictable regulatory environment.

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