Kenyan Destination Recognized for Good Practices and Desire for Improvement
Mara Naboisho is the first wildlife conservancy to participate in the Global Sustainable Tourism Council’s (GSTC) Early Adopters Program. In doing so, the destination has achieved an important milestone in the recognition of sustainable tourism as a model to protect an area of high concentration of wildlife in Kenya’s Greater Mara region, while empowering the local Maasai community.
In 2010, Base camp Foundation Kenya was requested by some 500 Maasai landowners to facilitate the creation of the conservancy as a community wildlife and tourism cluster. After three years of intense planning, compromise, and implementation of strict policies, the conservancy decided to participate in the GSTC Early Adopter “In a time when complex solutions are critical to the conservation of the last remaining vestiges of spectacular wildlife, as well as the improvement of quality of life for the traditional landowners of the Mara, this project represents hope in finding solutions. This project will continue to be a leader and a case to exemplify hope for the future” said Dr. Kelly Bricker, Chair of the GSTC.
Home to a large variety of flora and fauna, Mara Naboisho Conservancy is a 50,000-acre community located in a pristine part of Narok South district, next to the heavily trafficked tourist destination Masai Mara National Reserve, approximately 250 km from Kenya’s capital. Lars Lindkvist, CEO of Basecamp Foundation, which oversees the destination said, "Mara Naboisho Conservancy is honored to be the first wildlife conservancy to participate in the GSTC's Early Adopter Program. We are proud of our innovative approach to sustainable tourism, which is already realizing significant benefits, and improving lives and livelihoods in the beautiful Masai Mara. From the evaluation, we recognize a great opportunity to monitor and report on our impacts going forward, so that we can celebrate our success, identify improvements, and collaborate both regionally and across the globe."
Through a participatory planning process that deserves global recognition for inclusiveness of its stakeholders, innovation, and outcomes, Mara Naboisho Conservancy has already begun transforming lives and land. “Throughout its short existence, the destination has already seen a significant increase in wildlife numbers and a strengthening of local traditions, while encouraging Maasai landowners to take a proactive role in their own survival”, revealed the evaluation from Sustainable Travel International , the lead NGO partner for the GSTC on the Early Adopter Program.
"The results from Mara Naboisho Conservancy's assessment are outstanding. The tourism model implemented by the destination successfully integrates many fundamental sustainable tourism practices and principles. As the conservancy grows, it will only increase its positive impact on tourism partners and landowners. It is truly a global showcase for the wildlife conservancy model." added Jeremy Sampson, STI Senior Director and Destination Specialists, who also conducted the on-site assessment.
About the GSTC
The Global Sustainable Tourism Council is a global initiative dedicated to promoting sustainable tourism efforts around the world. Housed within the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the GSTC works to expand understanding of and access to sustainable tourism practices; helps identify and generate markets for sustainable tourism; and educates about and advocates for a set of universal principles, as defined by the Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria. The Criteria, a set of voluntary principles that provide a framework for the sustainability of tourism businesses across the globe, is the cornerstone of our initiative. For more information, visit http://www.gstcouncil.org/.
About the GSTC Destination Criteria
A panel of business owners, academics, government officials, and other experts, who examined the UN World Tourism Organization’s Indicators of Sustainable Development and other such guidelines currently in existence, developed the GSTC’s Destination Criteria. Because the criteria are intended to describe a globally applicable set of minimum steps needed to approach sustainability, the criteria are seen as a baseline that each destination should add to or adjust as needed.
The GSTC does not aim to certify destinations as sustainable; rather, the Council will review existing certification standards and acknowledge those that meet their criteria. However, any destination will be able to use the new criteria as a guide to becoming environmentally, culturally, and socially sustainable.
About Sustainable Travel International
Sustainable Travel International is a non-profit organization with a purpose. We’ve been collaborating with destinations, businesses and travelers to implement innovative sustainable tourism development and conservation solutions since 2002. We combine the mission and transparency of a non-profit NGO with the business acumen and expertise of the private sector, ensuring our partners achieve their desired results and receive a strong return on investment.