Ever visited or heard of a green destination in Kenya? No? Have no fear, the destinations do not exist yet – at least not until a pilot project implemented by Ecotourism Kenya (EK) is concluded. The project, which has been made possible through the support of the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF), aims to develop guidelines that will be used to recognise and promote green destinations in Kenya.

So what is a green destination exactly? The concept is so new that what currently exists by way of definition is still under review. According to Judy Kepher-Gona, a foremost authority with over 15 years in ecotourism, sustainable tourism, community development, and certification, a green destination is one that actively manages its resources in such a way that ecological, economic, social and aesthetic integrity of the area is sustained, and takes full account of current and future impacts, by adopting a recognised set of guidelines, laws, regulations and reporting frameworks.

Participants at the Ecotourism Kenya Stakeholder sensitisation event at the AWF Headquarters in Karen including from the East Africa Wildlife Service, Kenya Wildlife Conservation Forum, Federation of Community Tourism Organisations, Kenyatta University, KAYA Kinondo, Kenya Tourism Federation, Kenya Wildlife Trust, Laikipia County Tourism Task Force, Mlilo Safaris, National Environment Management Authority, OIKOS Africa Environmental Services, Serena, Strathmore University and Utalii College, among others.

Still, in its formative stages, the first phase of the pilot kicked off in August 2015 with a stakeholder feedback-gathering exercise which was critical in developing a draft set of green destination guidelines for the country.

Ecotourism Kenya has already sent out a call for Expression of Interest (EOI) to eligible destinations willing to participate in the piloting exercise which will be crucial to enrich the whole rating, recognition and certification system. The anticipated end result, expected at the end of February 2016, will be a Kenya Green Destination Guideline.

According to Andrew Karanja, Eco-rating  Program Officer at EK, who spoke to us via email, the second phase will aim to have in place a green destinations standard with clear rating indicators aligned to the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) Guidelines for Destinations. This phase, he adds, will also seek to garner more support for the initiative with more sector players adopting the guidelines.

Destinations that will be eligible will be those that have an interest in building capacity to effectively manage resources, entrench good governance models in managing those destinations for sustainable development and enhance the visitor experience and participation in destination programs. The eligible will include conservancies, sanctuaries, national parks and reserves and mountain, forest and community reserves.

We look forward to seeing those who will make it on Kenya’s pioneer green destination list and you will of course be reading all about it here at the Safiri Kenya Blog. Which destination would you like to see recognised as green and why?

For more details on the Green Destinations Pilot Project, contact:

Mr. Andrew Karanja
t: +254 726 366 080
e: ecorating@ecotourismkenya.org