01-02-2021 by Freddie del Curatolo
To speak of slowness, translated into Swahili 'pole pole', is never abstruse or daring for Kenya. The philosophy of taking things slowly, making life flow at a pace that is more human than machine-like, is a distinctive feature of the countries of sub-Saharan Africa.
If in some sectors and disciplines, such as in the field of bureaucracy and work with deadlines, "pole-pole" often makes us Westerners a little nervous, in other environments, and particularly in tourism, it has always been the basis of the good reputation and the so-called "African sickness" contracted by those who have frequented it on holiday. Eventually, it also became one of the main reasons for frequenting the area, or even for relocating.
Today, while tourism is one of the branches of the economy that is most affected by the pandemic crisis, the slowness of experiencing an adventure such as a holiday could become an added value.
According to international tourism experts, the recovery of leisure travel will be slow (but this is not a positive "pole") and the flow of people and related business will not return to 2019 levels before the end of 2023. We will have to make do with a gradual upturn and above all, for long-haul destinations like Kenya, with a transformation: those who will suffer most will be the so-called "mass" tourism, that of package holidays and the "anywhere as long as it's sea and warm" week. There will be far fewer unaware tourists, and certain age groups and vulnerable people will prefer destinations close to home and where there are health-insurance facilities.
However, Kenya will have a chance to nurture a well-informed, high-level international tourism interested not only in having an unforgettable holiday and relaxing (aspects in which the destination has always excelled), but also in increasing its wealth of knowledge, emotions and so-called "experiences". But not only that, to combine respect for the environment, culture, interaction with local communities and their projects, hospitality in unique, original, particularly suggestive situations or with a "history".
All this is now called "slow tourism". This is why "pole".
According to the report "Italians, sustainable tourism and ecotourism", travellers in Italy are increasingly keen to choose a holiday in places where sustainability goes hand in hand with services, where the protection of the environment and of the individual is an added value and where this can be found not only in the places visited but in the hotel structure itself. For this reason, future bookings are more likely to benefit a boutique hotel and a b&b than a large hotel or a dispersed village, however beautiful and well located it may be.
In structures that are closer to the individual, it is easier to meet certain characteristics that are now beginning to be requested or at least appreciated: recycling (zero or almost zero plastic), reuse, the ability to involve guests in initiatives that lead them to be participatory or even contemplative.
Nothing could be easier for Kenya, which already has the places, the enveloping impact of nature, the climate and other enchanting factors that put it in a prominent position in terms of power of attraction.
Moreover, in recent years, destinations such as safari destinations or coastal destinations in development, such as Watamu and Diani, have already taken steps forward by proposing yoga as a complement to the well-being one already feels when arriving here, sports practised without competition or performance anxiety but experienced as passion and relaxation, culture to be discovered not as a "serious" or "boring" practice (for us it never is, for heaven's sake...) but as a story worth listening to by those who know how to tell it, be it a place or a community.
Not to mention the "conservancies" where wildlife is protected, with an increasing number of tented camps and dream lodges in the savannah that involve clients in their projects, making them immerse themselves in a dimension where a human dimension and solidarity reigns, becoming a philosophy of life and a school of thought that also helps the economy of poor countries. Situations that have a lot to teach and certainly open the mind and refresh us in truly hard and dry times, from which man must and will want to emerge.
Kenya is one of the tourist destinations that can guarantee a return to travel as a fulfilling experience in every sense. Pole Pole.
Have you ever heard of the Lare Pumpkin?
And Mau Forest nettles?
And Molo Baby Chicken, the Red River Nzoia salt, Ogiek honey and the West Pokot yoghurt made with ash?
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