The Case for the Redistribution of Ecotourism Gains in Kenya.

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The Case for the Redistribution of Ecotourism Gains in Kenya.

Introduction

Ecotourism, also known as “responsible tourism”, is defined as “responsible travel to natural areas, which conserves the environment and sustains the well-being of local people” . Ecotourism has become the fastest growing sub-sector of the tourist industry: in the Third World, it is growing at a rate of 6% per year . Bordering the Indian Ocean and located in Eastern Africa, Kenya reaps substantial benefits from ecotourism activities. Kenya’s rich biodiversity and natural resources allow it to earn as much as 1/3 of its total foreign exchange revenues from ecotourism . A recent study of game farming in Kenya has shown that wildlife tourism was fifty times more lucrative than cattle grazing and that an elephant herd was valued at $610,000 annually . Ecotourism will therefore play a predominant role in the country’s economic development. In order to assess the equity implications of ecotourism in Kenya, this paper will attempt to assess the distributional impacts of the policies local authorities have undertaken in Kenya to foster ecotourism and to propose suggested reforms and recommendations to help groups, who have traditionally been marginalized such as the Maasai.

Background

Kenya was a protectorate and a British colony from the late 1890s to December 1963, when the country gained its independence. Although Kenya is a relatively stable country, it has only been governed by 3 Presidents (from only 2 political parties) since independence. With a population of 31.3 million people , Kenya is a multi-ethnic country, whose administrative arrangements closely parallel ethnic boundaries .

With a GNI/ capita of $360 , Kenya is still a ...

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