(eTN) – Information has been ascertained that the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the Global Environment Facility (GEF) have set aside a joint 220 million Kenya shillings to support partnered initiatives with, among others, the Kenya Forest Service, the Kenya Wildlife Service, and National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) to help in highlighting the attractions available in the Western Kenya region but hitherto little exploited by mainstream tourism.
The initiative includes a community sensitization component advising residents around biodiversity hotspots and living near tourism attractions, how to “harvest” tourism proceeds by offering local guiding and other services.
Said a source close to the new program but not officially authorized to speak on the record: “What the programs try to accomplish is to vest ownership in localized tourist attractions in the local community. Once they see that there is an earning potential in it, they will embrace it. In the process, we manage to protect wetlands, forests, and other environmentally-sensitive sites.”
Among the target areas will be the Kakamega Forest, the Cherengani Hills, and the Nandi Forest, among others, already identified by the Kenya Tourist Board as part of their own efforts to open up Western Kenya and showcase its many attractions to more foreign and local visitors.
The Kenya Tourist Board (KTB) has over the past year accelerated efforts to boost domestic tourism, not just to the coast and the national parks but also to the lesser-known spots upcountry and dubbed the initative #TembeaKenya, easily followed on Twitter when clicking on the hashtag lines.