OUR MISSION: Tribal Voice Communications works with UK travel companies, destination tourism suppliers, local communities, conservation organisations and development NGOs to help make tourism a force for positive change-minimising the negative impacts of tourism on the environment, wildlife and local culture and harnessing the benefits to help conserve natural resources and improve the livelihoods of local communities in tourism destinations.
Maasai Villages Initiative, Kenya
Unbeknown to tourists, many of Kenya's driver guides take back the fees they pay for cultural tours around Maasai villages, allowing the villages to retain on average just 4% of visitor tour fees.
In this way it is estimated that $5 million p.a. 'leaks' out of Maasai villages in Kenya.
Just imagine what the villages could do if they were able to retain this income.
Tribal Voice has worked with the Maasai villages in Kenya since 2006 along with tour operators, ground handlers and safari lodges linking the villages into the formal supply chain via a cashless ticketing system that ensures that the money that tourists pay to visit Maasai villages is paid directly into village bank accounts.
With no money changing hands in the villages, those driver guides that choose to exploit the Maasai can no longer pocket these fees.
All villages in the Mara Triangle (the Western side of the Masai Mara) now retain 100% of tourism revenues from lodge-generated village visits and this have brought about much development in these villages e.g. schools, rainwater harvesting systems, health care.
In March 2009, the initiative was expanded into the mass-market safari tourism area on the Narok side of the Masai Mara where 27 Maasai cultural manyattas operate. Tribal Voice is also working with the 9 Maasai villages in Northern Mara in order to replicate the system there. Amboseli and Samburu, the final areas in Kenya where village enterprises are being exploited, will hopefully follow when a funding source is secured to allow this.
The expansion of the initiative to the Narok side of the Mara has faced huge resistance from those driver guides that choose to exploit the Maasai. These drivers have attempted, and in many cases succeeded, to disturb the implementation of the new cashless ticketing system in order to protect their 'cash cow'. As a result half of the villages on this side of the Mara have dropped out of the system as they feel it is better to get a ‘little’ than nothing at all, as is the case when drivers boycott their villages.
The Maasai Mara Cultural Villages Tourism Association report that some drivers have resorted to such underhand tactics as informing visitors that there are anthrax and Ebola outbreaks in the villages and taking clients to remote Maasai villages that have never engaged in tourism previously. Tribal Voice continues to work tirelessly with the Maasai and the tourism industry in the UK and Kenya to overcome these issues.
Positively, many tour operators, lodges and driver guides in Kenya and the UK have embraced the new fair trade ticketing system and equitable returns from tourist village visits are accruing to many of the Maasai villages. Staunch supporters of the new fair trade system include the Kenya Association of Tour Operators (KATO), TUI, First Choice, Pollmans Safaris, A&K, Vintage Safaris, Mara Intrepids Lodge, Mara Serena, Mara West, Mara Timbo and andbeyond’s Kichwa Tembo and Bateleur Camps. The list of supporters is growing longer each day but we still need to encourage more driver guides, lodges and tour operators to embrace this responsible tourism movement.
Useful Links & Downloads:
Sunday Observer article
A Priceless Lesson in Maasai Life
World Travel Market's 2008 Spotlight article She Who Helps
Report on Maasai Villages Initiative
Tribal Voice specialises in pro-poor tourism development - forms of tourism that result in increased net benefits for the poor.
Tourism can be a force for positive change in the developing world, but all too often the negative impacts on communities far outweigh the positive. Yet if community tourism enterprises can be linked into the formal supply chain in a responsible way, the benefits can be truly life transforming.
A case in point is Tribal Voice's award winning Maasai Villages Initiative in Kenya, funded initially by the Travel foundation. This initiative has reversed over 30 years of exploitation of the Maasai villages' tourism enterprises in Kenya (cultural manyattas).
Visit the real Masai Mara and enjoy a truly Kenyan experience by staying with the Maasai tribe
Tribal Voice Communications has worked with the Maasai to develop two amazing holiday experiences combining wildlife and Maasai culture. Each experience is totally different and totally unique, so why not combine the two to tailor-make a truly responsible holiday in Kenya's Masai Mara. 100% of the price you pay goes directly to the Maasai community.
As featured on Channel 4's Holiday Hijack programme on Kenya, visit the Masai Mara and stay in Enkereri Village hosted by Maasai elders and their wonderfully, hospitable families. The village overlooks the world-famous Mara Conservancy game reserve with its diverse and abundant wildlife. Best of all you will learn about Maasai culture and traditions by living with the Maasai in this very special homestay experience - the first of its kind in the Masai Mara. For further details and bookings email firstname.lastname@example.org
The Maasai Mara (SEMADEP) Safari Camp borders the Masai Mara Game Reserve and is run by the local Maasai tribe. This is a fully serviced, tented safari camp but operates as a social enterprise with all monies being ploughed back into development in the community. So why not go on safari and enjoy the greatest wildlife migration on earth and explore the rolling plains of the world's finest game reserve, whilst at the same time learning about the Maasai way of life and supporting a community-owned and run safari camp.
For further information contact Senior Consultant Dr Cheryl Mvula
Tribal Voice Communications Ltd. Company Registration No. 5578749
Maasai photos © Georgina Cranston