Kenya’s commitment to sustainable tourism and green growth initiatives has come in focus as the country prepares to host the inaugural Africa Climate Summit (ACS) and Africa Climate Week (ACW) in September 2023.
Tourism, Wildlife and Heritage CS Peninah Malonza while welcoming the forum says the events – to be held from 4th to 6th September 2023 and 4th to 8th September 2023, respectively – will see Kenya showcase its sustainable tourism and highlight the positive role that the sector can play in addressing climate change.
The forum, which is hosted by the Kenyan government in conjunction with the African Union, will bring together Heads of States, thought leaders, policymakers, industry experts, and stakeholders from around the world. More than 20 African heads of state and governments and 13,000 delegates from across the world, including U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres are expected to take part.
“As a country that is committed to sustainable tourism, Kenya is honoured to host the Africa Climate Summit and Africa Climate Week,” Ms Malonza said. “This is a great opportunity for us to showcase our beautiful country as a sustainable destination, demonstrate our commitment to protecting the environment, share knowledge on sustainable tourism practices being undertaken, and forge partnerships for future action.”
Ms Malonza stated that Kenya’s tourism policy has prioritized sustainability by focusing on policies that emphasize environmental conservation, community participation in tourism development, social inclusion, capacity building and cultural preservation.
“The correlation between climate change and tourism is undeniable. Our efforts to safeguard our environment are inextricably linked with ensuring the long-term viability of our tourism sector. By aligning these agendas, we are not only safeguarding our natural treasures but also enhancing the quality of tourism experiences for generations to come,” Ms Malonza added.
Kenya made pronouncements at the 2021 Cop 26 that confirmed climate change and green projects as anchors to conservation, which are also key pillars of Kenya’s tourism. Some of the declarations include retraction on the use of vehicular transportation within all national parks and reserves to those that use non-fossil renewable energy by 2030 and a requirement for all hospitality and tourism facilities in Kenya to adopt renewable energy and circular economy in their operations by 2030 among others.
Kenya Tourism Board Acting CEO John Chirchir noted that the event, being the biggest to be held in Kenya post Covid-19 pandemic, presents an opportunity to profile the country as-the go-to destination for MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences & exhibitions).
“MICE has been one of the most disrupted segments in tourism,” Mr Chirchir said. “The Africa Climate Summit gives us a great platform to kickstart this segment as we work towards hosting more big events in the destination.”
He said the government is currently working on expanding and developing Kenya’s facilities to ensure that it remains a top meetings destination, adding that the event will be a big boost to the sector with more than 60 hotels and establishments within Nairobi and the outskirts expected to gain.
“Every year, tourists from all over the world are drawn to Kenya’s natural beauty and unique ecosystems, with a growing awareness on sustainability at the core of their travel choices,” he said.
“The forthcoming summit will boost tourism businesses as well as serve as a powerful platform, showcasing Kenya’s strides in sustainable tourism practices and highlighting our efforts in nurturing a destination that embraces both environmental preservation and unforgettable travel experiences.”
The inaugural Nairobi Africa Climate Summit aims to give Africa’s voice and position during the upcoming global COP 28. This is in recognition of the increasing impacts of climate change on development with sustainable tourism identified as a high impact sector with global relevance.
Kenya has made significant strides towards sustainability by implementing various initiatives that have seen it become a global leader in sustainable tourism practices. A key milestone in this journey was the plastic ban implemented in 2017 to reduce plastic pollution and protect the environment.
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