Upscaling Ecotourism in Kisumu City and its Environs : Local Community Perspective
Journal article, 2012
Kenya’s quest to be among the top ten long-haul tourist destinations globally require strategic focus as envisaged in Kenya’s Vision 2030. Ecotourism is emerging as an alternative development path that can enhance environmental conservation, promote preservation of cultural heritage as well as provide an alternative source of sustainable livelihood. Alternative livelihood in ecotourism provides a sustainable development path for Kisumu City and its environs. However, sustainability in ecotourism transformation is a concern; that is how to motivate the local community to participate in this venture? This study discerns these significant sustainability factors as perceived by the local community. The objective of the study was to discern the local community’s perception on significant sustainability factors for ecotourism transformation. And the research questions: What is the local community’s perception on significant sustainability factors for ecotourism transformation? This research design used both qualitative and quantitative research. The qualitative research design focused on site specific analysis of ecotourism sites of Dunga (Kisumu), Miyandhe (Bondo) and Seka (Kendu Bay). The quantitative research entailed data collection administered through questionnaire in eco-tourism outlets represented by 10 Beach Management Units (BMU) selected through purposive sampling. Principal Component Analysis was used to discern the significant sustainability factors for ecotourism transformation. A total of 28 items converted into variables were subjected against 326 respondents in the PCA analysis. The results indicated a total of seven (7) significant sustainability factors: First factor was willingness to participate in ecotourism ventures; second Factor was upscale ecotourism initiatives in the neighborhood; third factor was women and youth empowerment; fourth factor was youth and women employment in the neighborhood; fifth Factor: Natural Artifact factor; sixth factor was nature and culture under threat; and seventh factor was sex and importance of culture. The paper concludes that local community willingness to participate must be up-held through direct engagement and prioritization of critical issues and recommend that ecotourism prototype will facilitate public engagement and the empowering process. Culture-based ecotourism venture was rated highly by the local community and the blend should achieve quality product that is acceptable to the local community and the visitor.