, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 28 – Rural communities are set to get a share of tourism earnings following injection of funds by United Nations Tourism Organization to finance the community based tourism enterprise in Kenya
Speaking when he presented cheques worth Sh4 million to the beneficiaries, Tourism Minister Najib Balala said the objective of the funds is to enhance local employment, improve quality and competitiveness of community tourism business.
“The initiative is line with the government policy of spreading tourism earnings to the rural communities and ensuring sustainable utilization of tourism resources,” Mr Balala said.
The first beneficiaries of the Sh16 million kitty provided under the Sustainable Tourism for Elimination of Poverty program are 15 community initiatives based in tourism hot spots of Amboseli, Magadi, Kitengela and central Rift Valley.
Twenty-two small and medium enterprises have so far been identified for funding, seven of which have been provided with Sh2 million under the first phase while the remaining 15 received Sh4.1million.
He said the initiative aims at unlocking opportunities for the people living in marginalized areas to benefit from the sector.
The Tourism Minister who will be participating in the 88th Session of the Executive Committee meeting of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) in Argentina from 6 June to 8 June 2010 said he would lobby for more funds to support community tourism based projects.
“The ministry will take some of the products of the communities such as sewn shirts and carvings to Argentina and lobby for funds in order to enhance community based projects,” he said.