The Canon-Ishara Mara Partnership
A game changer for Kenya, Africa’s eco/community tourism
Community, cultural and eco-tourism together constitute an important integral part of Africa’s wider tourism sectorial endowment potential.
National tourism development frameworks in African countries should have strategic Investment in tourism infrastructure and its marketing in order to unlock it’s fullest employment and revenue generation potential.
The desert country,United Arab Emirates(UAE),offers an important case study from which Africa could draw useful lessons. The UAE stands dwarfed when compared with the average African country in terms of eco-tourism potential.
The country can only boast, desert coastal and non-coastal ecosystems without any appreciable amount biodiversity other than well managed beeches plentiful sand dunes, the date tree, camels and a few surviving plant species native to the country.
She cannot compare her self to the average African country in terms of quantum of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystem biodiversity via abundant river systems,lakes,wetlands,waterfalls,wildlife species of all kinds,etc.
Despite the foregoing eco-tourism limitations of the country,she embarked on substantial investments in innovative artificial tourists attraction spot infrastructure projects like the world’s tallest hotel building in the sea,artificial islands,world’s tallest tower,shopping Malls, among others.
Driven by a tenacity of purpose and employing state of the art technology,,the country worked to position herself as the hob for global tourism today and which is never in question.
According to both UAE official sources and that of the World Travel and Tours Council,the United Arab Emirates’s Tourism Revenue reached 25 USD bn in Dec 2020, compared with 38 USD bn in the previous year.
Tourism now contributes 11.5 per cent of Dubai’s GDP, an official UAE statement said, adding that Dubai has been named the third-best city for capturing direct international tourism spend in the World Travel & Tourism Council’s 2019 Cities report.
On the part of the African continent as a whole, for the same period,in 2019, the industry accounted for about seven percent of Africa’s GDP and contributed $169 billion to its economy—about the size of Côte d’Ivoire’s and Kenya’s combined GDP. Africa’s travel and tourism sector employed more than 24 million people in 2019, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC).
It is therefore against this background that the recent announcement of the Canon-Ishara Mara partnership deal to launch the Canon Experience Centre in Kenya, dedicated to supporting education and empowerment of people,is a welcome news.
Canon’s Experience Centre aims to raise awareness about nature and wildlife whilst empowering the indigenous Maasai people by providing a unique and immersive photography, video and print experience at the national reserve.
The importance of environmental protection and conservation awareness creation among African ethnic communities cannot be over emphasized since they are the custodians, direct and immediate beneficiaries of the ecology and its biodiversity.
In the same vein, they are equally those who would feel the immediate adverse impact of ecological degradation be in terms of wildlife or plant life which serves their food, medicinal and other needs.
Transforming local community members into content creators on various topics such as Human Coexistence with the environment and Wildlife, Maasai Tribe and Culture, Wildlife Photography, Wildlife Beauty, Protection, Preservation and Environmental Conservation is indeed a game changer.
Likewise, the initiative of promoting and empowering women to become Maasai tour-guides by providing various training and educational opportunities.
Further supporting the trained guides to purchase official Canon equipment through its exclusive packages designed for the Maasai tour guides as well as a referral scheme from Canon that will allow the Maasai tour guides to earn an added commission should a Canon customer visit the experience center is lot more laudable.
While we of the African Development magazine, wish to specially commend Canon for its important youth and tourism focused initiatives in Africa as part of its CSR,we also world like to call on African governments to take a cue from the UAE and invest heavily in tourism development infrastructure, destination branding and tourism marketing.
Granted Africa’s relatively endowed diverse forms of tourism endowments, the continent could do a lot more better to provide more employment for the youth and to derive more revenue for developing funding as a means of scaling down the continent’s much lamented debt burden.
We dare add that, beyond the Canon Experience Center initiative in Kenya, moving on, Africa’s tourism Ministries and promotion agencies could may be consider well crafted strategic and mutually beneficial partnerships with Canon Africa.