Ecotourism Sensation

Background

Tourism along the Lake Victoria is not scaling to the heights that the other regions are at. This is because this region is presumed to not have the traditional Kenyan tourism attractions, which is the Big Five. Though it has a huge potential to become one of the best tourism destinations in all of Kenya, it has been neglected by the tourism sector. Furthermore, the Lake provides a tremendous amount of natural resources, including papyrus reeds, water hyacinth and fish scales from fish, which talented craftsmen and communities around the lake use to produce beautiful crafts, and earn a living from. The communities however, do not have the capacity to tap effectively into the market.

The need to strike the balance between economic empowerment and resource conservation, for the benefit of the environment has brought out the passion in us. For a long time now, the communities which live in proximity to the lake, wetlands and other riparian areas, have depended on the natural resources that they get from these ecosystems to support their livelihoods. They have however not had the capacity, knowledge or ability to harvest sustainably to avoid deterioration and destruction of the ecosystem which provides them with these resources.

Aside from this, the Lake Victoria region is a beautiful place with a wide array of attractions which can support, community based tourism in the aspects of ecotourism, avitourism, and cultural tourism. We have therefore set out to package all this, in an attempt to promote tourism along the Lake Victoria region and the development of local talents and crafts. On top of it all we will be establishing a green fund as part of the business, which will be aimed at conserving all the natural resources that our platform will be promoting utility of.

Intervention

Ecotourism Sensation Lake Victoria is an online platform that is designed in a way that will enable it to be used as a tool for monitoring and evaluation of the Lake’s and wetlands resources, it will provide a database where all this information will be stored, synthesized and analysed for use in conservation. It will be an information portal for both international and domestic tourists, conservationists and would be economically empowered locals along the Lake Victoria region. This is a tool that can be used for entertainment, monitoring and evaluation, communication and business purposes, all packaged in one.

There are a number of tour companies and agencies along the Lake Victoria region which conduct tourism and sell packages for tourism products along the Lake. But we are not just selling tour packages, we are promoting community based tourism through using the communities to help in the discovery of exquisite attractions, developing and promoting local crafts from the communities, conserving and promoting natural resources and giving our clients the opportunity to be part and parcel of all this in one package.

Impact

Tourists will get the chance to have new experiences and adventures, they will get to discover Kenyan tourism from a different perspective from the one that they are used to.

Local community members with access to natural resources from the Lake and adjacent wetlands and use them to make beautiful crafts, will get the chance to showcase their talents, thereby improving their markets and hence, their income and livelihoods.

The rural communities along the Lake Victoria region will also benefit from employment creation from the improved market for the crafts. There will be additional work all the way from harvesting to production and from the increased tourism; there will also be the need for more local tour guides.

Improvement in the ecotourism standing of the Lake Victoria region, the revenue from tourism to both the county and central government will also improve in the Lake region. Lastly, the environment and the Lake ecosystem will benefit due to improved conservation of the natural resources available there, with restoration and continuous planting being the focal strategy.

Business Model

Expenses

Identification and Packaging

This activity will involve researching and gathering information on all the ecotourism attraction sites found along the Lake Victoria region. Information gathering will be a twofold process, one will be using locals as enumerators to canvas the whole region, including highlighting all the key cultural sites and way of life of the communities in question. The other process will involve the use of mobile applications like direct text messaging by the local communities to send in photos, locations and descriptions of their most interesting sites along the lake region.

All this information will then be fed into a database, synthesized and used in the development of ecotourism products. After quantifying and describing all the ecotourism products, the information will be again used in the development of both fixed and flexible tour packages.

Website and applications development

This will include putting together a team of professionals and consultants who have the capacity to actualize our technology.

Setup a green fund

The green fund will be used for conservation purposes, and the process of deciding on the key areas for conservation will involve the following:

Revenue Stream

Ecotourism Sensation Lake Victoria hopes to get its start-up capital from donations and well-wishers and after setting up, the business will get its revenue from advertisement fees that will be charged to both ecotourism sites and the developed craftsmen, from selling of tour packages and from money received for event packages. We anticipate that these revenue streams will be able to ensure the sustainability of the business venture and our green fund kitty.

Cost Challenge

To offset some of the start-up costs and maximize on profit making, the cost challenge ideas that we have include using in house expertise as much as possible, especially in the development of the online platform, using the space provided by Ecofinder Kenya and volunteers for start-up hands on work.

Marketing Strategy

Our marketing strategy will involve targeting our specific customer segments with different messages that describe what we want to offer them. Our key messages will be centred on our products being eco-friendly, exciting, adventurous and exquisite. The marketing channels we will employ are the use of flyers, banners, online advertisements, brochures, face to face marketing by word of mouth, recommendations and social media presence.