Wildlife conservation, safari tourism and the role of tourism certification in kenya: A postcolonial critique

John S. Akama, Shem Maingi, Blanca A. Camargo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


Kenya’s national parks and game reserves form the pillar of the country’s tourism industry, and wildlife viewing and safari tourism are significant generators of income and foreign exchange. The promulgation of pioneer national parks in Kenya in the mid-20 th century followed colonial practices of "exclusion" and "divide and rule" which marginalized local communities in decision-making processes and initiation of tourism programmes and wildlife conservation initiatives. Government supported policies and programmes that focused on wildlife protection and promotion of safari tourism also accentuated human-wildlife conflicts and contributed to spedes loss and habitat fragmentation. This study examines the evolution of Kenya’s wildlife conservation policies and safari tourism programmes, and argues that safari tourism in Kenya has privileged Western models of tourism development and wildlife conservation, with historic exclusion of indigenous communities still ongoing today, though some improvements are evident. Postcolonial legades influence the political economy of tourism in regard to the Maasai in Kenya; inequitable power relations are illustrated with the help of a literature review as well as a case example. The study offers suggestions to guide the development of future tourism certification programmes and indicators related to protected areas and safari tourism. Such programmes should be cognizant of Kenya’s postcolonial context and attend to social and cultural sustainability, including issues of inclusion, exclusion and empowering local communities to participate directly in the management and ownership of environmental and tourism resources.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)281-291
Number of pages11
JournalTourism Recreation Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2011

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2011 Tourism Recreation Research.

Copyright 2016 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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