Shaping the tourism industry in the Tsavo landscape

As we continue to implement the TUI Care Foundation funded project, “Creating Value for wildlife and people of Tsavo, Kenya” collaboratively with African Wildlife Foundation, we have engaged an experienced consultant to develop a Tourism Circuit Plan. Due to the dynamic nature of the tourism industry, the consultancy conducted a stakeholder engagement meeting by bringing together a diverse group of stakeholders from different conservancies to gather insights for this plan that will cover Mgeno Conservancy, Taita Wildlife Conservancy, Maungu ranch, Kasigau Conservancy, Choke Conservancy, Lumo Conservancy, Taita Hills Wildlife Sanctuary, Lake Jipe Conservancy and Teita Sisal Estate. It is a gathering that served as the heartbeat of our collaborative efforts.

A tourism circuit is a route on which at least three major tourist destinations are located such that none of these are in the same area, and at the same time they’re not separated by a long distance. The circuit enables the tourists increase the total number of visits to all destinations on the circuit and additionally provides them with the attractions and experiences of all the destinations located on the circuit thus providing defined entry and exit points.

Following this pivotal meeting, the consultants embarked on a series of journeys into the heart of TTWCA membership venturing into the famous Taita Hills, exploring the tranquil shores of Lake Jipe, and reveled in the wonders of Lumo Conservancy, Lions Bluff Lodge, Taita Hills Sanctuary, Hildana Lodge, and more. Each place unveiled its unique charm and significance in shaping the TTWCA Tourism Circuit. All this aimed at exploring these conservancies and unique community areas, assess their tourism potential, and contribute to the sustainable development of these spaces through the power of partnerships.

As we interact with the key stakeholders in this crucial journey, common themes and insights emerged. Community involvement and empowerment are key pillars. The dedication to conservation efforts is unwavering. Challenges, including infrastructure and security, were acknowledged. And the potential for sustainable tourism growth remained the guiding star.

From the insights gathered, it is prudent to improve the infrastructure and access roads within the landscape as well as that of the facilities available, signages are vital to guide travelers into these iconic and scenic places as well as having a landscape-scale fee structure. As we look into all this, the safety and security for both visitors and wildlife is paramount, and has to be given at most consideration. It is very critical to plan and grow tourism in a way that balances the needs of the environment, the economy and the society as a whole.

What’s on the horizon? The project continues to gather momentum! In the next few days the consultant will be gathering insights from tourism experts, craft interim reports, and crunching numbers to outline the costs associated with our tourism nodes. A comprehensive cost-benefit analysis is also in the works as we inch closer to the final action plan.

Our commitment to this journey remains unshakable. TTWCA together with the consultant will weave the insights gathered from the stakeholders into the fabric of this plan. It’s a journey fueled by collaboration, a shared vision, and the promise of a brighter future for TTWCA member conservancies and its remarkable landscapes.

The goal is to deliver meaningful experiences for both local and international tourists while fostering sustainable tourism and conservation initiatives.