Ecotourism Kenya (EK), formerly known as Ecotourism Society of Kenya (ESOK), is a civil society organization that was established in 1996. Founded with enormous support from the tourism industry in Kenya, it plays a key role in ensuring that Kenya’s tourism is sustainable, both in terms of concern for the environment and for the welfare of local communities.
Ecotourism Kenya is a membership organization and is one of seven private-sector associations that make up the Kenya Tourism Federation (KTF). EK is an executive board member of the newly formed Federation of Community Tourism Organisations (FECTO) and the Global Travel and Tourism Partnership (GTTP) Kenya.
As a membership organization, Ecotourism Kenya brings together individuals, Community Based Organizations (CBOs) and tourism businesses in a forum where they discuss the concept of ecotourism and use the resultant knowledge to improve their operations towards best practices.
Ecotourism Kenya currently has a membership of approximately 440 individuals, companies, community based organizations. These members hold an Annual general Meeting (AGM) once every year and elect a Management Board which takes up the role of an Executive Committee mandated with the task of providing overall strategic guidance including approving plans and budgets.
The organization has a secretariat of 11 permanent staff members who have been mandated to execute activities of Ecotourism Kenya as outlined in the strategic plan. The secretariat is headed by the Chief Executive Officer who provides liaison between the management board and the secretariat. Other staff in the secretariat include: Public Relations and Communications Officer; Programmes Officer; Ecorating Officer; Resource Mobilization and Fundraising Officer; Accountant; Coast Region Officer; Administrative Assistant; Program Assistant (Publications and Communication); Program Assistant (Leadership and Mentorship Program); and Program Assistant(Standards and Best Practices).
The Organisation has 5 main advisory sub-committees, that offer support to the Management Board and technical advice to the Ecotourism Kenya Secretariat in conducting the Organisations mandate. These sub-committees are:
Community Outreach Program Committee;
PR and Marketing Committee;
Fundraising Committee, and;
Ecotourism Kenya’s membership is spread throughout the country, therefore the organisation has a countrywide reach and representation.
Ecotourism Kenya is guided by the following principles:
Vision: To be a leader in the knowledge and practice of ecotourism
Mission: To effectively link tourism, communities and conservation for sustainable tourism development in Kenya
Goal: To promote tourism practices that will conserve Kenyas natural environment and improve livelihoods of associated communities.
At Ecotourism Kenya, we promote sustainable utilization of resources for sustained livelihoods. We do this by putting emphasis on:
Respect for the environment
Respect for local people and their cultures
Equitable sharing of responsibilities and benefits
Our policy is to ensure incorporation of sound environmental and social practices in new and existing tourism enterprises. We seek to increase recognition of environmental and social issues in the development of tourism in Kenya and in all work that we undertake. Toward this end, we intend to remain at the forefront in the implementation of environmental best practices in tourism development, and to promote social responsible practices applicable to tourism.
Ecotourism Kenya works with various partners to provide the desired output of fostering sustainable development. The key is in the formation of linkages. Ecotourism has worked with the following partners at various levels:
ANVR (Association of Dutch tour operators)
East African Wildlife Society (EAWLS)
Federation of Community Tourism Organisations (FECTO)
Institute for Legal and Environmental Governance (ILEG)
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
Kenya Bureau of Standards (KBS)
Kenya Community Based Tourism Network (KECOBAT)
Kenya Tourism Federation (KTF)
Kenya Tourist Board (KTB)
Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS)
Ministry of Tourism, Kenya
National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA), among others
Nature Kenya (EK)
SNV – Netherlands
The African Conservation Centre (ACC)
The International Ecotourism Society (TIES)
United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO)
United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO)
Watamu Marines Association (WMA)
Kenya Wildlife Conservancies Association (KWCA)
To support the activities of Ecotourism Kenya, the Association relies on grants and donations, membership support and revenue from programme activities. The donors that EK has worked with to fund the Community Based Program have included both government and private sector sources. Some of them include:
African Fund for Endangered Wildlife
Tourism Trust Fund (TTF)
United Nations Development Program-GEF NDP-Small Grants program
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