CULTURAL HERITAGE TOURISM
SAFETYIN CULTURAL HERITAGE TOURISM
TheMaasai of eastern African are known as one of the fiercest tribesmenin world. This community that primarily thrives on nomadism bykeeping herds of cattle and moving from one place to the other insearch of pasture has gained this fame by coexisting with wildanimals of the African savannah specifically the world famous MaasaiMara Game Reserve (in Kenya) and the Serengeti National Park (inTanzania). The unique lifestyle of the Maasais characterized by tinyhouses called manyattas made from cow dung and sticks and their foodprimarily consisting of meat, some eaten raw, and raw milk attractsthousands of cultural heritage tourists from around the world eagerto experience this lifestyle. Their sense fashion characterized bybrightly colored shuka(sheets) and beadwork makes them standout (Zeppel 2006). However,the region as a whole faces terror threats as witnessed by recentattacks and kidnappings of tourists in Kenya by the Al Shabaab fromneighboring Somalia. The Kenyan government as well as the localMaasais who benefit from cultural heritage tourism have mandate toensure the security of the tourist (Leslie 2012). There are severalways that this can be achieved without limiting cultural tourism asdiscussed next.
Thenumber of tourists dying in various tourist destinations around theworld is growing rapidly necessitating the debate on the safety oftourists and specifically cultural heritage tourists. Although thereis no clear or detailed destination-specific data available ontourists’ deaths globally, there are indications that tourists arefacing greater threats today from the various destinations. Dawood(2012) observed that middle and low income countries experience 90%of the global traffic accidents and thus tourists into suchdestinations are more prone to traffic dangers. Additionally, henotes that out of the various dangers that tourists are exposed, 25%of reported deaths are due to illnesses largely caused by localdiseases to the destinations such as Malaria in Kenya.
Destinationgovernments should provide necessary infrastructure to safeguardtourists against common risks. This includes provision of highstandard health facilities to cater to tourists in case of illnessesand proper transport lines for safe travel and evacuation in case ofaccidents. For report places such as the grasslands occupied by theMaasai community, tarmac roads are almost nonexistent and thetraditional medicine men are more available as opposed to standardmodern day healthcare facilities (Wilks & Moore 2013). Therefore,local communities should liaise and push for the development of suchfacilities in those areas to support cultural heritage tourism.
Educationof tourists is critical in ensuring tourists’ safety. This iscritical in the sense that tourist are informed about the dangersthat they are exposed to courtesy of their mere presence in theregion or through involvement in some activities. As earlierindicated, one of the greatest threat to tourists safety is infectionfrom local diseases. Information on such dangers and the adequatepreparedness required to stay safe is paramount (Hall et al. 2012).In the case of Kenya, it is advisable for tourists to be wellprepared for Malaria infection. Informing and educating tourists onsuch activities is also important to keep them safe and on the rightside of the local laws (Zeppel 2006). For instance, some local plantsmaybe poisonous and it is important to warn tourists to stay awayfrom such plants for their own safety.
Somecultural activities foreign to tourists that risks their safetyshould be avoided. Although these activities might be a core part ofthe indigenous people’s culture, such practices should be avoidedto ensure the safety of tourists. In the case of the Maasai, onerelatively dangerous activity that the tribesmen are known for iskilling a lion individually or as a group using arrows, spears andclubs as part and parcel of their initiation rituals for warriorscalled Morans. Boys who successfully undergo circumcision, which isalso carried out by traditional doctors using traditional methods,usually go out for hunting lions soon after recovering from theircircumcision. Such activities, though practiced by the locals can bequite dangerous for tourists who are unaccustomed to such activitiesor unskilled to venture into wildlife tracking and killing.Additionally, the laws of Kenya have been updated to abolish huntingof lions as a protected species though there are rife rumors that theMaasais continue to carry on with killing lions as part of theirculture (Smith 2009).
Culturalheritage tourism calls for a higher level involvement with localpeople as opposed to other forms of tourism. This alone makes ittricky to manage tourists separately from the local or indigenouspeople (Kaminski etal.2013). Therefore, there should always be careful application of lawto cover both locals and tourist to ensure their safety. In thediscussion above, the context and the lifestyle of the Maasais andportray them as brave men of the bush who coexist with wild animalsand without the need of forma police protection. However, the samecannot be said of tourists. The safety of tourists should beemphasized and ensured all the time in order to portray the countryas a suitable tourist destination. It also goes without saying thatthe security of the entire country and not the Maasai villages aloneshould be secured against terrorists and other threats to ensure thesafety of tourist at all times.
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