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.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Guru Careers: MI Developer

    £35 - 45k: Guru Careers: An MI Developer is needed to join the leading provide...

    Recruitment Genius: Fitness Manager

    £20000 - £22500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leisure organisation manag...

    Recruitment Genius: Visitor Experience Manager

    £25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Delivering an inspiring, engagi...

    Recruitment Genius: Learning Team Administrator

    £17500 - £20500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are looking for a great te...

    Day In a Page

    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
    How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

    How to survive a Twitter mauling

    Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
    Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

    At dawn, the young remember the young

    A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

    Follow the money as never before

    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

    Samuel West interview

    The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
    General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
    Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

    Confessions of a former PR man

    The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

    Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

    Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
    London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

    The mother of all goodbyes

    Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
    Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

    Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

    The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
    Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions