“Sustainability is the new competitive edge, it’s the new luxury that the tourism industry should be yearning to incorporate”, -Judy Gona, CEO of STTA.

Figure 1: The Chief Guest Mr. Ngei wa Mutinda presenting the certificate to Dr. Bitok Kipkosgei – KU

By Karuma Evelyn

The Sustainable Tourism and Travel Agenda (STTA) inter-university young changemakers programme was held at the Cooperative University of Kenya on 2nd December 2023. It was a remarkable achievement that marked the 100th dialogue on sustainable development of tourism in Africa in the six years since its inception in 2017. The event recognized the outstanding contributions of seven cohorts of STTA Rising Stars, showcasing the program’s commitment to transforming inspiration and fostering green skills in tourism, hospitality, and related fields.

The panelist dissected consumer behavior trends and the crucial intersection of sustainability and visitor management in African tourism. A predominant theme took center stage where customers are more inclined to the value of a service or product. Businesses were reminded that it’s not sheer size, location, or workforce that determines competitiveness, but rather the adoption of sustainable measures that align with eco-conscious values. An impactful takeaway that resonated with most participants was “People are not just consuming food they are consuming wellness”.

The discussion also debunked the delicate balance between environmental preservation and the desires of the modern tourist. The consensus was clear that the travel companies must deliver authentic experiences while safeguarding cultural integrity, conserving ecosystems, and upholding the rights of visitors. A call was made for a thoughtful strategy, emphasizing the need to refrain from any form of tourist exploitation and discrimination. There was emphasis on incentivizing eco-conscious tourism accentuating the belief that sustainable tourism is not merely an action but a mindset that must be cultivated.

Notably, Kenyatta University was honored for its exceptional performance and invaluable support in championing the STTA Young Changemakers agenda. The accolades extended to other esteemed institutions, including Machakos University, Murang’a University, Amboseli Institute, Cooperative University, Technical University of Mombasa, Chuka University, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University of Science and Technology, and Boma International Hospitality College.

The STTA Inter-University Young Changemakers Programme remains at the forefront of advancing sustainable tourism. This significant event serves as evidence of the commitment of educational institutions to shaping the future of Africa’s tourism industry.

Visit the STTA website to learn about the available opportunities for students and any other relevant information.

Figure 2: Dr Bitok Kipkosgei – KU delivering his speech

Karuma Evelyn is a passionate EcoActivist and Blogger;

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