By Mapenzi Kitsao
Mombasa, October 31, 2023 - In a remarkable collaboration, the Youth Empowerment Program Initiative (YEPI) partnered with Sote Hub, Hazina Microfinance, and SlovakAid to host a local dialogue on sustainable tourism during the third session of the Blue Economy Innovation and Invention Summit.
The event, held on October 31, 2023, focused on shedding light on the vital role of sustainable tourism at the local, community, and national levels. A distinguished panel of experts convened to discuss the challenges, policies, and successes in achieving sustainable tourism within Mombasa's Blue Economy.
Ms. Saadu H. Rashid, the Coordinator and Training Manager of the National Museum of Kenya Heritage Training Institute (NMKHTI) in Mombasa, was among the panelists who delved into the challenges faced in the pursuit of sustainable tourism. She emphasized the significant obstacle of maintaining external tourism facilities. Despite government initiatives in sewage and road maintenance, Saadu stressed that there remains substantial work to be done in the county.
While expressing gratitude for government efforts, she pointed out, "We appreciate the government's endeavors in maintaining roads and sewage, particularly in the old town. However, there is still much to consider to harness tourism's potential in the county."
Furthermore, Saadu underscored the importance of preserving historic houses along the coast, suggesting that these well-maintained properties could be rented by tourists, generating additional income for the local community.
Mr. Hamid Shee, the Chief Officer of Blue Economy, Agriculture, and Livestock in Mombasa, echoed these concerns. He noted that the local community lacks adequate information on preserving tourism assets, and the youth often lack the necessary knowledge and skills to thrive in the tourism sector.
Ms. Saadu highlighted the symbiotic relationship between technology and culture in sustaining tourism. She proposed collecting, documenting, and disseminating cultural information through modern technology, such as social media. This innovative approach, she argued, could both preserve and promote Mombasa's rich cultural heritage, making it more enticing to tourists.
Mr. Barua Mshenga, the Marketing Manager of Safari and Holiday Masters, shared his experiences in achieving sustainable tourism. He mentioned initiating the "Fishing with Locals" program, a marketing strategy that involves local fishermen collaborating with hotels for the purchase and sale of fish. Additionally, Mr. Barua has worked with influencers from various organizations to inspire young people to embrace innovative marketing techniques in the tourism sector.
The panel discussion underscored the importance of addressing these challenges, adopting modern technology, and preserving cultural assets to ensure the sustainability of tourism in Mombasa's Blue Economy. It became evident during the dialogue that these discussions and collaborative efforts are pivotal steps toward maintaining and enhancing the region's sustainable tourism sector.