Challenges to sustainable sports tourism development in a non-metropolitan region in Kenya: A case of Iten township
Njoroge, Joseph M.
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Sports related Travel traced to 776 BC Olympics (Baker 1982; Davies 1997 and De knop 1999). According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization (2010), tourism has been one of the major contributors to the global economy and employment. In 2008 World Travel and Tourism contributed to approximately USD 5,890 billion and a 9.9% Gross Domestic Product which is expected to rise to 10.5% in 2018 (UNWTO, 2008). One important form of tourism contributing to this growth is sports tourism. Recently the conference on sports tourism convened by the UNWTO acknowledged the contribution of sports related travel and tourism estimated at USD 600 billion (www.worldsportsdestinationexpo.com). A more important role that tourism plays is its contribution towards GDP in most developing economies. UNWTO estimates that tourism accounts for about 45% of tourism exports among least developing countries (UNWTO, 2010). In Kenya, tourism is a key economic sector and a major contributor to Kenya’s Gross Domestic Product (12.6%) and represents 14.7% of foreign exchange earnings (Kenya Institute of Public Policy Research and Analysis, 2009). A large part of Kenya’s tourism product revolves around Safari tours as Kenya boosts for its great National Parks and Game Safaris. Among the least exploited is sports tourism, despite its great potential. Similarly, the sports sector has a major economic impact to Kenya’s economy, contributing to both the economy and providing employment to hundreds of Kenyans. Moreover, sports, and professional runners especially, occupy a central place in Kenya’s culture and identity based on their achievements in medium and long distance running. It is therefore not surprising that both active and aspiring athletics are now trooping Kenya to train with the ‘‘champions’’. Historically, sports in Kenya have experienced major setbacks due to poor management of clubs and sporting associations, including local football. However, other better managed sports have continued to flourish both locally and abroad, in athletics especially.