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There are many tourist destinations around the world that offer different tourist experiences. Depending on the tourists involved, the experiences could include physical or social activities or both. Tourists migrate from their native locations to other destinations for various reasons, which are both individual and social. The forces of motivation, push and pull explain tourist behavior patterns, and this helps in tourism planning and management. Kenya is a prime tourist destination in Africa and the whole world mainly due to its diverse wildlife and cultures.
Prime Natural Features In Kenya
Kenya boasts of a variety of favorable natural features that tourists would enjoy, ranging from diverse wildlife, beautiful sceneries, mountains, hot springs and geysers, and a climate that is tourist-friendly throughout the year. However, Kenya’s tourism experiences center on tours and safaris in its vast game reserves and National Parks that are rich in wildlife, mostly animals. The distribution of the Parks and game reserves is in the southern regions of Kenya, but there are a few in the Northern and Western parts of the country. Examples of Kenya’s notable National Parks and game Reserves include Maasai Mara national game reserve, Amboseli national park, Tsavo east and west game reserves, Nairobi national Park, Lake Nakuru national park, malindi-Watamu national Marine Park and others. The parks and game reserves are under the control of Kenya Wildlife services (KWS), and they charge an entrance fee for both domestic and foreign tourists. However, foreign tourists pay a higher fee than domestic tourists. The Parks and Reserves are famous for harboring the ‘Big five’ animals, birds and reptiles. Nairobi is a fascinating city being the only city in the world with a National Game park situated within its environs.
Kenya’s climate changes from topical in the coastal region to a temperate climate in inland Kenya to arid and/or semi-arid in the northeast and northern regions. This means that the climate is warm and welcoming round the year for tourists, especially the ones running away from the cold winter weather. Along the coastline, temperature remains relatively high (hot and humid), ranging from an average annual minimum of 22.4 to a maximum of 30.3. The influence of climate on Kenya’s tourism sector is evident because the peak season is mostly between August and September, when the western countries are experiencing cold winter weather.
Characteristics of the Kenyan society
Kenya has a wide range of tribal and ethnic groups. A total of 42 tribes, who mostly migrated into Kenya from southern and western parts of Africa inhabit Kenya. In the rural areas where most National Parks and Game Reserves occur, most of the tribes are nomadic and pastoral, with a few others being agriculturalists. However, agriculture remains the primary sector of the larger Kenya’s economy, with crops such as tea, coffee and flowers being the prime exports. On the contrary, people living in the urban areas, who are the minority, lead modern lives. The Maasai people are arguably the most important tribe in Kenya because of their rich and deep-rooted culture, which they still practice wholeheartedly. This is a nomadic herdsmen community inhabiting the southern part of Kenya, near the Maasai Mara National game Reserve. In fact, a significant number lives within the reserve because the government allows human settlement in Game reserves. Consequently, they get involved in human-wildlife conflicts, with their revered cattle targeted by predators like lions and leopards. Despite all the measures established by the central and local governments to mitigate human-wildlife interaction, the Maasais still hunt and kill the lions and leopards in retaliation, which is a massive blow to the tourism industry.
Kenya is a multicultural nation, but it has the Swahili language as its national language and English as the official language. Therefore, local accommodation and travel agencies mostly use English while writing up their brochures and travel guides, although there are scripts written in other prime languages like French, Italian, Japanese, Chinese and others from where most tourists to Kenya originate. In order to boost its tourism industry, the Kenyan government has established several institutions where foreign tourists can learn local languages (especially the Swahili language) so that they can maximize their experiences and interact well with the locals. Just like Kenya is a multicultural country it is also a multi-religious country. Christianity is the dominant religion followed by Islam, and others. Christianity spreads throughout the country, evident from the church buildings in most parts of the country. On the other hand, Islam is significantly confined but not limited to the coastal region around Mombasa city and its environs. Vast mosques are a common view in such areas and individuals draped in long white robes.
Prime Heritage Resources in Kenya
Apart from the welcoming climate and national Game Parks and reserves, there are innumerable other sites that serve as tourist attractions in Kenya. Notable among the rich heritage sites is the Fort Jesus. The Portuguese settlers at the Kenyan southern coast of Mombasa built the Fort Jesus in 1593. Many tourists from around the world visit and get marveled by the magnificence of this 16th Century fort. At its heart, it has a museum that is rich in Kenya’s history of the coastal strip. Kenya’s cultural heritage gets preserved in numerous museums that spread to most parts of the country (e.g. Kisumu museum, Lamu museum, German postal museum, Swahili House museum, Nairobi museum, and others). These museums are home to historical equipments and other artifacts, some of which date back to millions of years, keeping in mind that Kenya has a worldwide recognition as the cradle of mankind. Tourists also have the privilege of visiting other heritage sites like Lamu Fort, Shanga ruins, and Gede ruins along the Kenyan coastline. The Portuguese explorer, Vasco da Gama, landed in Malindi (a town along the Kenyan coastline) in 1498 on his way to India. He is such a recognized figure in Kenya such that he has a monument dedicated to him in Malindi. This is a significant national heritage that tourists come from far and wide to see.
Circumstances that led Kenya to becoming a tourist destination
Kenya’s tourism developed before 1930, fuelled by the arrival of foreign tourists in small groups. Most tourists then comprised of wealthy Americans and Europeans only who could afford the luxury in Kenya. Tourism fed and thrived on the rich resource base of wildlife. There were varieties of mammals, birds and reptiles that served as a prime tourist attraction. As the number of tourists to Kenya rose, the government secluded and gazetted Game Parks and reserves, beginning with Nairobi National Park in 1946 in order to formalize the industry and rack in more foreign currency. Today, tourism dominates Kenya’s service sector as the principal foreign currency earner, and it is still growing. There are slightly above twenty-five terrestrial National Game Parks, four marine national game Parks, twenty-two National game Reserves and one Animal orphanage. There also numerous National heritage tourist sites which are present in most parts of Kenya.
Motivation in tourism
Motivation is the intrinsic or extrinsic force that activates and directs behavior towards a set goal. Abraham Maslow proposed the theory of human motivation, which argues that people satisfy their basic needs before moving on to the secondary wants. Travel can be seen as a response to something that is lacking, yet people have its desire. Most tourist attraction destinations understand that motivation is the only force that explains tourist behavior, and that is why Kenya invests a lot in tourism research to explore their behavior and gain advantage in the tourism sector over its rivals.
Pull factors in tourism
Pull factors entail the natural or artificial qualities and characteristics of the destination. Firstly, Kenya boasts of having the famous ‘Big Five’ in its Parks and Reserves. They include the lion, leopard, buffalo, elephant, and the rhino. Tourists come to Kenya from other parts of the world to watch these animals acting about in their natural settings. In addition, Kenya enjoys sunny weather throughout the year and tourists running away from the cold winter weather would find Kenya a pleasant place with its warm sandy beaches along its coastline. The people of Kenya share the virtue of warmth and hospitality towards foreign tourists, which has seen many tourists visit Kenya. The Maasai people have a worldwide recognition for their strong affiliation to their culture, which they warmly share out with tourists.
PUSH FACTORS IN TOURISM
Push factors refer to the mental state of tourists that drive them to pick and visit a certain destination. They are both experienced at both individual and/or social levels. Some of common ones are escaping from a boring environment, relaxation, evaluation of self and exploration, prestige, enhancing family relationships, regression, education and social interaction. For Kenya, tourists seeking a lively and enjoyable nature drive to escape from boredom can get involved in Kenyan safaris, camping and other water sports. Tourists who love exploration can also go to Kenya and have an experience of mountain climbing, exploring Kenya’s deep tropical forests mostly in the western parts of the country.
Prime tourism experiences in Kenya
A safari t Kenya offers tourists with a variety of activities they can engage in as they interact with both social and physical environments. Once they get into the country, tourists find accommodation in any of the numerous hotels, resorts and lounges. Most tourists are keen to visit the Maasai Mara National Game reserve to watch the world recognized migration of more than two million herbivores (mostly Wilderbeests) from the Mara on the Kenyan side to Serengeti plains on the Tanzanian side on July. This migration earned the title of being one of the Seven Wonders of the World. There are many agencies that offer transport and guide services to visiting tourists so that they can maximize their tourism experience. Kenya’s terrain also provides beautiful sceneries, including a magnificent view of the Great Rift Valley, mountains (e.g. Mt. Kenya and Mt. Longonot) for lovers of mountain climbing and hills covered by lush vegetation. The Maasai community attracts hordes of tourists from other countries who come to witness and participate in Maasai’s cultural activities like dancing and dressing (Bruner 2001, p.881-908). Heritage centers such as museums, old forts, ancient ruins and cultural theme parks also offer a good deal for tourists who cherish African heritage. They can as well buy precious antiques as souvenirs, although they must avoid getting exploited by a few unscrupulous Kenyan traders. Water activities lovers will have the opportunity to visit Kenya’s Marine parks, swim in the warm waters at Kenyan sandy beaches or engage in sport fishing.
Effects of tourism on community
Whenever two or more cultures meet, there is the tendency to influence one another. Tourism in Kenya has had a great deal of influence, both positive and negative, on the Kenyan communities that interact considerably with the tourists. There is a widespread mentality that western culture, from where most tourists to Kenya come from, is superior to native cultures. Consequently, most natives fully or in part abandon their deep-seated cultural values, such as their mode of dressing, sexuality, marriage procedures and others. Episodes of young Kenyan ladies eloping with male tourists and young men eloping with elderly women tourists is commonplace in Kenya, especially the coastal region. Young men and women are the main culprits and, being the ones expected to propagate the African culture, the risk of some African cultures becoming extinct seems inevitable. However, tourism is the leading foreign exchange earner for Kenya, meaning that it has a significant economic importance to Kenyans. Tourists need the services of guides during their experiences, and they pay them. They also buy various antiques from the locals as souvenirs, thereby boosting the locals’ economic status. There are numerous hotels, lodges, and camping sites that offer employment opportunities for the locals, and this improves their living standards. In addition, most people believe that tourism erodes and contaminates the cultural values and activities of the natives, but this is not entirely true. Through tourism, the government creates a lot of employment opportunities. This would, however, not be possible if there were no cultural heritage sites, artifacts and other cultural activities that attract tourists. Therefore, tourism helps in the collection, documentation and conservation of cultural values and items. People from different cultures in Kenya prepare traditional foods for tourists, dance for them, and drape in their cultural attires for tourists, and, in return, they get paid. They, therefore, feel appreciated and motivated so that they continue cherishing their cultures. This trend might, however, result in culture accommodation and real attachment to culture may be lost.
Once tourists land in Kenya, they secure accommodation in the hotels, lodges and resorts of their choice. With advancement in communication technology, people can book reservations on the internet from the comfort of their homes abroad. The first tourist hotel opened in Malindi as a product of beach tourism. In the ensuing years, the coastal region of Kenya has seen increasing development in tourist hotels, lodges and resorts as investors try to cash in on the booming tourism market in Kenya. Currently, more than twenty-five three star hotels and not less than fifty-five standard hotels are in the Kenyan coast. The number of tourist accommodation facilities is rising, vastly fuelled by the Kenyan government’s campaign of marketing Kenya through the ministries of Tourism and National Heritage, as well as the incentives it offers to real estate developers. More hotels, such as Hilton, Norfolk, Sarova Stanley, Serena group of Hotels and lodges are present in many other parts of Kenya, especially in areas near National Parks and Reserves and along prime roads.
Tourist Transportation in Kenya
Although the overall transport system of Kenya is relatively underdeveloped, Kenya has a transport infrastructure that is favorable for tourists. The government understands that tourism is an economic resource, and it is for this reason that it has developed dense road networks as well as a few airstrips in the prime National parks and Reserves (Akama 2002, p. 3-8). The country has modern airports like the Jomo Kenyatta Airport in Nairobi, Moi International Airport in the city of Mombasa and another international airport in Kisumu city through which tourists get in and out of the country. However, road networks in some Parks and reserves are poor and tourists’ vehicles get stuck in the mud while on their safaris during rainy seasons. Railway networks and services are also scarce. Consequently, the primary mode of transport used is roads, although there are flight services for those tourists who would like to Kenya’s beauty from the air.
Gastronomic experiences available for tourists in Kenya
Kenya’s cultural diversity manifests itself through the diverse foods and cuisines that are available in Kenya. The dishes offered by the hotels, lodges and resorts range from tribal delicacies, traditional African Dishes, European and Arabian delicacies. Kenya’s staple foods include rice, chapati, bread and vegetables, with ugali (a cornmeal porridge) being the national dish. Irish potatoes form a vital ingredient in almost every Kenyan meal. Vegetable curry is very popular among Kenyans together with beef, goat, chicken and fish. Different cultures have different methods of preparing each of these dishes. Beverages and other hot drinks are also available for the tourists.
Components of a brochure as a promotional tool
Promotion is the process of marketing a tourism product or destination in order to raise demand through conveying positive attributes of the product to prospective customers. There is a wide range of promotional strategies that one can utilize, including drafting comprehensive and effective brochures and distributing them through efficient travel agencies and other tourism institutions. Some of the main components of a brochure include visual materials, phone numbers of hotels, travel agencies and tour companies, website, e-mail, address, among other contact materials. Since the brochure is about traveling, it would be imperative that it has maps of several places. The brochure should also have short but complete captions that are persuasive. Most tourists will see the cover of the brochure first. Therefore, the design of the brochure should be flawless, inspired headlines and eye-catching images.
Tourists get attracted to Kenya for various reasons, namely, physical and social activities. Kenya has beautiful terrain, good, natural beaches, forests, wildlife, favorable climate, rich national heritage, among other forms of attraction. Tourism is the highest foreign exchange earner for Kenya, and it gets bolstered by the government through the relevant authorities. Both the pull and push forces of motivation oil the machinery of the tourism industry. Kenyans are a friendly people, who are ready to offer help and other services to tourists, and they, in turn, receive monetary rewards. Although tourism brings significant fortunes to Kenyans, it also brings with it negative effects on society and the environment. Supportive service industries like transport and destination promotion play a crucial role in fostering tourism, in Kenya.
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