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Kenya – Ban foreign drivers from Maasai Mara, says guides’ lobby

Star (Kenya)

Says move will create employment to more than 3,000 qualified youths.

In Summary

• Mara Guides Association has proposed that foreign tour drivers be allowed to drive up to certain points before leaving their passengers to the local drivers and tour guides who understand the landscape of the park better.

• Association patron Meitaimei Dapash said move would ensure that locals can also benefit from the tourism sector.

Tourists take photos of lions at Maasai Mara

Tourists take photos of lions at Maasai Mara 
Image: DOUGLAS OKIDDY

A travel lobby has asked the Narok county government to enact laws limiting access of Maasai Mara Game Reserve by foreign tour drivers.

Mara Guides Association has proposed that foreign tour drivers be allowed to drive up to certain points before leaving their passengers to local tour guides who understand the landscape of the park better.

Association patron Meitaimei Dapash said that the move will create employment to more than 3,000 qualified youths.

Dapash was speaking when he met officials of the Tourism Regulatory Authority at Talek trading centre near the world famous game reserve.

He was accompanied by Association chairman John ole Tira, secretary Jackson Rakwa and treasurer Peter ole Narok.

Dapash said that the action should also be applied to other private conservancies, game reserves and national parks across the country.

This, he said, would ensure that locals can also benefit from the tourism sector.

“Coming up with such laws will uplift the living standards of our people who are languishing in poverty yet they have a chance to earn a living in their locality,”  Dapash said.

The land activist said he expected resistance to the proposal from certain powerful individuals but they will push until they get their rightful share of tourism revenues.

“The same case is happening in Aberdare National Park and we will fight for it so that the national cake is shared by all the people,” he said.

The US-based lecturer said that they are also engaging the local government to block all private cars from accessing the Maasai Mara and instead use the tour vehicles owned by the locals.

On his part, Tira faulted the move by Tourism Regulatory Authority to have tourism license fees be backdated to 2015 saying that most of their members have no capacity to pay the fees and are unemployed.

 

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