The Maasai Mara is set to usher in a new community-based tourism investment scheme dubbed the Maasai Mara Small Medium Enterprises Tourism and Development Plan. This is courtesy of the Ewaso Nyiro South Development Authority which has spent KES 3.9 million to develop the plan.

The plan intends to boost Kenyan tourism investment by raising bed occupancy by 70% which will potentially generate KES 3.1 billion annually. It will also attract KES 200 million in game viewing fees.

High end cultural Kenyan tourism products will be promoted and a new tourist circuit set up within and outside the reserve. It will develop standards for land use and define thresholds for environmental sustainability among other things. This Medium Enterprises Tourism will end up establishing at least 1,000 direct and 3,000 indirect jobs within the next 10 years.

Meanwhile, the Kenya tourism ministry has embarked on a plan to diversify tourism beyond the traditional game watching and beach patrolling in a bid to increase bed nights. These will include encouraging home visits, agri-tourism, youth and sports tourism and ecotourism to increase the number of days a tourist will have to stay in Kenya.

The new approach which is part of the government’s Vision 2030 strategy aims to double income from tourism this way. The tourism ministry has identified sites for homestays saying more is still needed since homestay tourism has great potential and can generate more cash than hotel-based visits.

The tourism ministry is urging locals to improve their homes and register with the ministry to get clients. Other products include agro-tourism where locals will be encouraged to plant crops that attract tourists.

This new effort, it is expected, will raise revenues from the traditional KES 40,000 per tourist to KES 70,000. We cannot help but wonder though whether there isn’t some aspect of confusion – encouraging the setting up of tourist class hotels, especially in reserves and parks like Tsavo, while on the other hand saying these may not be as lucrative as homestays do not seem to make sense?  Let us know what we are missing here.