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Down in the doldrums
28 Oct 2008 10:23 AM
Tourism in Kenya is in the doldrums because of violence following December's election, according to the Financial Times.
Bad news anywhere in Kenya rebounds on visitor numbers, the FT reported on Friday, and this time the election crisis badly dented four successive years of tourism growth.
Sooner or later, visitors will return however, unable to resist the lure of Kenya's magnificent wildlife. And one site many would like to see is the Tana River Delta, home to lions, hippos, rare primates and almost 350 species of bird.
The Kenyan government could hasten the return of tourists by rejecting a proposal to grow biofuel crops on the Delta.
If sugarcane is allowed much of that wildlife is likely to go. With it will go the attraction for tourists, significantly slowing Kenya's economic recovery.
Economists say the value to Kenya of the Delta's wildlife tourism, fishing and farming is more than £30 million. Conservation group Nature Kenya believes the economic impact of this biofuels scheme would be horrific.
Nature Kenya and the RSPB are lobbying for parts of the Delta to be legally protected so that development does not harm wildlife or the farmers and fishermen dependent on the area for their livelihoods.
This form of protection would allow development elsewhere after the impacts of development plans were taken into account.
Biofuels have done severe damage to irreplaceable sites in other parts of the world. The Tana Delta has too much to offer to be allowed to go the same way.
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