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Evicted Kenyan indigenous community demands share of tourism revenue on World Responsible Tourism Day

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An impoverished Kenyan indigenous community, evicted from their land to make way for a world-famous nature reserve, is launching a special appeal on World Responsible Tourism Day, to lay claim to a slice of lucrative tourism revenue. 

The Endorois traditional territories lie in the Lake Bogoria National Reserve  – one of Kenya’s top tourist destinations in the spectacular Rift Valley. 

Since their eviction in the 1970s, the 60,000-strong cow-herding community no longer has access to vital grazing grounds, or to ancient sites for naming or initiation ceremonies, imperiling their culture and survival. 

Leader of the Endorois people, Wilson Kipkazi, says, “We welcome visitors to our country. But loss of our lands has forced my community into poverty. It is high time that we benefit fully from the income generated through tourism.”

While in Lake Bogoria, tourists can visit reconstructions of typical Endorois village and watch locals perform traditional dances, yet they remain oblivious to the dispossession of the Endorois.

“Often tourists are unaware of the impact of their holidays on local communities – in our case conservation must go hand-in-hand with the protection of the Endorois’ way of life”, says Wilson Kipkazi.

Today, the vast majority of the Endorois live in severe poverty and struggle to pay for school fees. Few children are educated above primary level. They have little or no electricity and must often walk long distances to fetch water.

Minority Rights Group International (MRG) recently launched Trouble in Paradise campaign is aimed at helping the Endorois get redress for the loss of their lands.

Mark Lattimer, MRG’s Director says, “While tourism brings valuable revenue to countries, like Kenya, it’s important that the benefits must be shared equally. At the moment, only a tiny fraction of the money raised from tourism – about 4 % – goes to the Endorois.”

In 2007 tourism accounted for 10 percent of Kenya’s GDP. The largest number of tourists visiting Kenya come from the UK, followed by Germany, Italy and France.

Now in its second year, UN sponsored World Responsible Tourism Day, 12 November 2008, aims to encourage tourists and tour operators to take action to safeguard the environment and deliver tangible benefits to local communities.

Notes to editors

  • Endorois leader Wilson Kipkazi and Mark Lattimer, Director of MRG, will talk about the plight of the Endorois community in the context of World Responsible Tourism Day at a press event:
    • Date/Time: 12 November 2008, 10.30am
    • Venue: Foreign Press Association, 11 Carlton House Terrace, London, SW1Y 5AJ
  • For more information or to pre-arrange interviews please contact the MRG Press Office on press@minorityrights.org.
  • For more information on MRG’s Trouble in Paradise Campaign click here
  • For copies of a DVD showing footage of the Endorois community in Kenya contact the MRG Press Office on press@minorityrights.org or view online
  • Statistics on tourism in Kenya from the Kenyan Ministry of Tourism
  • MRG is a non-governmental organisation working to secure the rights of ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities and indigenous peoples worldwide

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