Olorgesailie, located along Magadi road, has made it to the UNWTO Best Tourism Villages list. The Best Tourism Villages initiative is a new idea by UNWTO to advance the role of tourism in safeguarding rural towns. It looks at the town’s landscapes, natural and cultural diversity, and local values and activities, including local gastronomy. The initiative comprises the following three pillars:

The Best Tourism Villages by UNWTO

Recognises villages that demonstrate outstanding rural tourism. Participating towns need to show their cultural and natural assets. These assets should preserve and promote rural and community-based values, products and lifestyles. In addition, they should have a clear economic, social and environmental commitment to innovation and sustainability.

The Best Tourism Villages by UNWTO Upgrade Programme

The upgrade programme aims to benefit several villages that do not meet the recognition criteria fully. In addition, UNWTO and its partners will offer support to improve elements of the areas identified as gaps in the evaluation process.

The Best Tourism Villages by UNWTO Network

The Network will provide a space for exchanging experiences and good practices, learnings, and opportunities. It will include representatives of the villages recognised as the ‘Best Tourism Village by UNWTO’, the towns participating in the Upgrade Programme, and experts, public and private sector partners engaged in promoting tourism for rural development.

At the 24th UNWTO General Assembly in Madrid, forty-four villages from 32 countries received recognition. According to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), they all stand out for their natural and cultural resources, innovative and transformative actions, and commitment to developing tourism according to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

An independent Advisory Board arrived at its decision guided by criteria covering the following nine areas:

  1. Cultural and Natural Resources
  2. Promotion and Conservation of Cultural Resources
  3. Economic Sustainability
  4. Social Sustainability
  5. Environmental Sustainability
  6. Tourism Potential and Development and Value Chain Integration
  7. Governance and Prioritisation of Tourism
  8. Infrastructure and Connectivity
  9. Health, Safety and Security

One hundred and seventy-four villages selected from seventy-five UNWTO member states participated. Another twenty villages will enter the initiative’s Upgrade Programme. All sixty-four make part of the UNWTO Best Tourism Villages Network.

Olorgesailie has long been of great archaeological significance since the first dig in 1942. It is particularly famous for its rich hominin artefacts. With this new recognition, the village may very well become Kenya’s new hot tourist destination for 2022. Meanwhile, if you feel your village deserves to be on this list, you can nominate it when the next edition opens in February 2022.