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Kenya among states picked in Unesco’s tourism recovery support

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Youth take part in the donkey race in Lamu during the Maulid festival.
Youth take part in the donkey race in Lamu during the Maulid festival.

Kenya is among eight countries that will benefit from the Unesco  Covid-19 crisis response programme, aimed at supporting tourism recovery around World Heritage Sites.

Sensitisation of the project in both Lamu and Mombasa has kicked off targeted at those earning a living through tourism economic activities.

These includes artisanship and tour guiding among others.

According to Unesco national programme officer (East Africa) Judith Ogana, the project is aimed at building resilience in places of tourism interest that was negatively affected because of the pandemic.

“The project themed around promoting sustainable tourism and private sector engagement for inclusive community development, in response to the Covid crisis, is focused on Unesco heritage sites of Lamu Old Town and Fort Jesus in Mombasa,” said Ogana.

Incentives to boost sustainable tourism practices will include training and capacity building for key stakeholders in the sector, as well as promotion of investment in cultural heritage preservation.

It also targets creation of short-term job opportunities by utilising culture and heritage as a source of resilience.

 “We have to be sustainable as tourist destinations by engaging the community. This is a catalyst project and we hope that the youth and players will continue to protect and preserve their tourism business beyond the project,”said Ogana.

Speaking while receiving the project sensitisation team at his offices, Lamu county governor Issa Timamy lauded Unesco for initiating the project, which he said, was key in supporting tourism recovery around Lamu.

 Lamu county has been on the global limelight owing to its status as a heritage site.

“The outstanding culture and traditional way of life, the architecture of our buildings in old town is the highlight of our unique culture. We are playing the role of custodians to this heritage that we strive to ensure it remains on the Unesco heritage list,” said Timamy.

Lamu continues to retain a rich cultural heritage, showcased during events such as the Lamu Cultural Festivals that attracts both local and international visitors.

Mombasa governor Abdulswamad Nassir on the other hand pledged his administration’s support on the implementation of Unesco programs.

Nassir has joined the open skies policy conversation which he says will help drive up international tourist numbers to Mombasa and the Coast region at large.

“We will get a tourism boom with open sky policy being in a place like it is happening in other destinations such as Zanzibar, that receives about 12 international flights daily,”he said.

Visitors, he noted, continue to demand experiences in their destination of visit and elaborated that Mombasa county has other attractions besides water sports and the beach.

The Unesco programme which is also supported by the Kenya Tourism Board, and the National Museums of Kenya, is part of a wider campaign aimed at catalyzing new measures and approaches for sustainable tourism at World Heritage destinations.

Other countries in the support programme are Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cambodia, Georgia, Indonesia, Morocco, Namibia, and Vietnam.