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Kwale to explore ecotourism for sustainable development

Kwale to explore ecotourism for sustainable development

Kwale,

Friday, April 19, 2024

KNA by Hussein Abdullahi

Kwale county government is turning its focus on eco-tourism to drive socio-economic and environmental benefits for sustainable development.

Ecotourism is a sustainable tourism that seeks to promote the conservation and protection of the environment while providing opportunities for tourists to appreciate the rich natural and cultural heritage of a destination.

The coastal county seeks to use ecotourism to sustain and improve its biodiversity and also invigorate the local economy.

Deputy Governor (DG) Chirema Kombo says the devolved unit is out to explore the untapped opportunities in the wildlife sub sector for development and tourism promotion.

Mr. Kombo says eco-tourism is environmentally responsible travel to undisturbed natural areas to enjoy and appreciate nature that promotes conservation and provides benefits to local communities through active socio-economic involvement.

Kombo says the devolved government is out to harness Kwale’s diverse tourism potentials for sustainable development.

He says Kwale with its diverse cultures and rich natural resources has great potential for ecotourism development.

Kombo says the county government will seek to promote better understanding of nature and wildlife conservation while generating income and opportunities for the local communities in an ecologically, culturally and economically sustainable manner.

He noted that ecotourism also encourages the development of cultural products such as traditional handicrafts and cultural performances which can provide additional sources of income for local communities.

Kombo spoke when he presided over the launch of eco-bandas or eco-friendly lodges, butterfly farms and a water tower in Shimba Hills forests with the aim of upscaling ecotourism in the coastal county.

The eco-friendly lodge projects are being implemented by community forest associations at a cost of Sh. 4.7 million grant.

The environmental projects are being undertaken through the Kenya Marine Fisheries and Socio-Economic Development (KEMFSED) programme under the theme “improving livelihoods of coastal communities”.

The KEMFSED project is implemented by the national government through the State Department for Blue Economy and Fisheries with support from the World Bank.

He says the ecolodges offer a range of activities to help guests connect with nature and the local culture such as game drives, guided nature walks, bird watching and cultural tours.

The DG says the eco-bandas that come in all shapes and sizes from luxury tents, treehouses and traditional huts are designed to minimize the negative impact of tourism on the environment and to maximize benefits to the local communities neighboring wildlife protected areas.

“The eco-bandas seek to provide visitors a unique and authentic way to connect with nature and minimize impact on the environment and learn about the importance of conservation,” he said.

He says the Kenya Wildlife Service was involved in the site selection process and that the eco bandas feature picturesque panoramic views of Shimba Hills national reserve rich in flora and fauna.

The DG says the development of eco-tourism in the Shimba Hills National Reserve is one of the top priorities of the devolved government led by Governor Fatuma Achani.

“He says more eco-lodges will be set up to contribute to the development of a responsible and sustainable type of ecotourism for the benefits of area residents,” he said adding that they will be a viewing point for the wildlife enthusiasts.

The DG says Kwale county government is determined to prioritize environmental conservation by protecting and preserving natural landscapes and tourist sites in a bid to safeguard tourism assets for posterity.

He says ecotourism as one of the niche tourism areas will be promoting conservation for environmental awareness and education and for the enjoyment of nature for both domestic and international visitors.

Shimba Hills national reserve that straddles Shimba Hills and Matuga sub counties is famous for its unique ecosystem and is paradise of the Sable antelopes which are critically endangered and solely found in Kwale county.

The Shimba Hills National Reserve also has a huge population of elephants, leopards and buffaloes besides being an important site for birds and butterflies.

Courtesy; KNA

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