Just how green are the credentials of your Kenyan safari holiday?

The current chairman of the Kenya tourist board is Mr Uhuru Kenyatta, son of the former president. It's a significant name and one that has associations with Kenya's "golden years" just after independence when President Jomo Kenyatta presided over one of the best economic growth rates in Africa, thriving tea and coffee plantations, the promise of real prosperity and, with the birth of affordable safaris, a lively and burgeoning tourism industry.

The current chairman of the Kenya tourist board is Mr Uhuru Kenyatta, son of the former president. It's a significant name and one that has associations with Kenya's "golden years" just after independence when President Jomo Kenyatta presided over one of the best economic growth rates in Africa, thriving tea and coffee plantations, the promise of real prosperity and, with the birth of affordable safaris, a lively and burgeoning tourism industry.

Now Kenya needs to rekindle the Kenyatta factor. The numbers of tourists to the country may have risen by up to 30 per cent recently, but those who have not visited for a number of years will be saddened by Kenya's neglected infrastructure, the rationing of water and power, the poverty of drought-stricken country people and the all-pervasive corruption which starves the country of investment.

But it's not all bad news. Firstly, Kenya remains a magnificent country. The national parks, which have been lucky in escaping the worst of the drought, conjure all kinds of superlatives. The migration of the wildebeest (in May and June), the massing of flamingos, the loping of giraffe and zebra across the plains, the herds of elephant: they still live up to the Africa of your wildest wildlife dreams. Kenya also has the Great Rift Valley (thought to be the cradle of mankind), it has Mount Kenya for treks, and it looks onto Kilimanjaro, the world tallest free-standing mountain, with a footprint the size of Yorkshire.

In 1996 the Il Ngwesi safari lodge in the north of Kenya attracted international attention as the first tourist ranch to be wholly owned and run by local (Samburu) people. Since then there have been many thoughtful "green" tourist initiatives aimed at making tourism and wildlife conservation work to the advantage of local people.

Much of the accommodation in the parks, such as the excellent Serena Lodges, are built and run in great sympathy with the environment. As part of a number of new initiatives the tourist board in Kenya is now rating tourism businesses on their "green" credentials.

According to Beatrice Buyu, managing director of the Kenya tourist board, the country is fighting to stay ahead in the tourist game in Africa and has ambitions to become a world-class destination. There are plenty of new ideas for small-scale, high-quality holidays to the country. "We have undersung aspects of the country such as culture and sport and we are going to start a homestay programme so that visitors can experience the Kenyan way of life first hand," she said.

"There's great potential in spectator sports such as cricket. We're building on adventure sports, too, such as mountain climbing and camel riding which will diversify what's on offer for tourists and ease the pressure on the busy parks and beaches."

The negative publicity about safety for tourists in Kenya, which has eclipsed the bigger truth about the friendliness of ordinary Kenyans, is also being addressed. Tourist minibuses now have radio communications and good links to medical services, and measures have been taken to stop harassment by beach boys selling trinkets.

The government, for its part, has rebuilt the road between Nairobi and Mombasa on the coast and improved many others. In all there seems a new spirit of co-operation between parties and an energy about tourism in Kenya. But what of the corruption and lack of investment?

Well, a new "wealth declaration law" has been mooted - as a condition laid down by the International Monetary Fund in exchange for a £133m loan - by which members of Kenya's political and administrative élite will be obliged to reveal their assets, which may do something to stop the haemorrhaging of public money into private accounts. Then Mr Kenyatta could sit back and watch a real transformation.

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