During this week’s team meeting, the ice breaker was interesting. Name your ideal holiday destination. Simple task it is right? Not when you are the one to start the round and come up with an inferior place like Mombasa, while other team members mention all sorts of fancy places around the world. I started doubting my answer when one by one, places like Greece, Maldives and France were mentioned.
Thinking my answer over later, I decided it was the best I had. Having traveled widely, I felt I hadn’t been loyal to my country as much because there are places in Kenya I haven’t set foot. Mombasa is one of those places. Kenya is a beautiful place that people travel from all over the world to come visit. Ironically, most Kenyans are not as much of domestic tourists. I found myself culpable of this.
27th September marks the World Tourism Day. It is a day set aside to foster awareness among the international community of the importance of tourism and its social, cultural, political and economic value. The 2016 theme is Tourism for All: Promoting Universal Accessibility. Accessible Tourism for all is about the creation of environments that can cater for the needs of all of us, whether we are traveling or staying at home.
Universal Accessibility can be viewed in terms of disability friendly, the aged or even small children. Are our tourism sites friendly to provide universal access? I think that’s a question I would leave open for the various tourism sites and tour operators to ponder.
My concern is that most Kenyans like me, may be having a notion that tourism is for the foreigners. We never know what we have at home until we go to other countries and find our indigenous animals for instance, in cages at foreign zoos. I have witnessed a couple of those- Giraffes, Hippos, and peacocks- but I digress.
Accessibility may not be an immediate issue, at least in Kenya, as much as embracing the idea of domestic tourism. I am of the opinion that to even tell whether our tourism sites are accessible, we should first experience them. Embracing domestic tourism needs to start at an early age. Activities like school trips ought to be embraced by parents because they contribute to children’s learning of their country.
Once in a while, just taking time off your busy schedule and taking family outings, visiting the museums, game parks, wildlife sanctuaries or even simple picnics can teach children a lot about their surroundings. Let’s get into this inquiry of whether our local tourism sites are really accessible, by experiencing them for ourselves. Come to think of it, who is to blame when children call a cow a big dog? Some of them have never even traveled up country to see actual cows.
Speaking of which, I should take a vacation to the Coast, to finally say with beaming pride that I have traveled around Kenya. Which holiday destination is in your bucket list? We would love to hear from you in the comments. Also join us this Friday, September 30th, for our weekly EnezaChat as we discuss the importance of Tourism in Education.
About the author
Juliet Otieno is the Brand and Social Media Lead at Eneza Education. She is trained in journalism and Public Relations and is a blogger who likes to play with words.