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Climate fears as tourism fete starts

NAIROBI, September 23 – Kenya on Monday kicked off activities to mark this year’s tourism week, with climate change taking centre stage at the celebrations earmarked for Malindi and Watamu.

Tourism Permanent Secretary Rebecca Nabutola said this year’s International Tourism Day, set for September 27, carries the theme ‘Tourism responding to the challenges of climate change’.

She explained that the venues were chosen owing to the evident effects of the Sabaki River which dumps large amounts of silt into the Indian Ocean.

“Malindi and Watamu are at the coast and, according to scientists, this will be one of the worst hit areas due to climate change,” Nabutola observed.

She said that her ministry was keen to educate residents of the two areas on the importance of conserving their environment and creating awareness on climate global issues and their impact that could affect them.

“We want to send the message that this is a big area of concern and if nothing is done about it, the whole tourism pattern will change,” she said.

Last year, Machakos in Eastern Kenya hosted the celebrations while Kisumu played host in 2006.

The International Tourism Day – with weeklong festivities – was set aside by the United Nations World Tourism Organization to create awareness on issues related to tourism.

Deputy Tourism minister Cecily Mbarire is expected to officiate at the main celebration of the day in Malindi.

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