A county in Kenya woos visitors with battle-field tourism concept

Taita Taveta County is poised to become the first county to fully embrace battlefield tourism, a new concept taking shape.

The battlefield tourism concept has gained relevance and a sense of urgency as the world prepared to mark 100 years since the start of World War I or WWI. The war pitted forces from German which ruled Tanganyika against British forces protecting their colonies in Kenya, Uganda and Somaliland. It is different from war tourism, which involves visiting active war zones often at great personal risk — and usually has a touch of thrill-seeking or voyeurism about it.

The first wave of pilgrims to the battlefields of Northern Europe wes mostly relatives who went to search for the grave of loved ones. The purpose of their visit was to mourn, seek closure, and honour their dead. Taita Taveta has arguably one of the most evident reminders of WWI. It is here that much of WWI was fought between 1914 and 1918.

Kenya will be hosting a series of events from the time it held the centenary celebrations in August 2014 until August 2018, creating four years of tributes to honour the four years of war. Kenya Tourism Board said, “This is an important milestone in our history and it is important we respect and reflect on it appropriately.” “This also has presented us with an opportunity for the destination to evolve its niche offerings, combining the increasingly more popular battlefield tourism with Kenya’s world renowned safari experiences.” Taita Taveta County Governor said the county is endowed with riches in the form of battlefields, remnants of the First World war which was fought in Europe and Africa with parts of Taita Taveta county provide huge tracts of land where the real war was fought.

MD of Sarova Group of Hotels said that the industry was committed to tapping into product diversification in a bid to remain relevant. “Battlefield tourism is relatively new. We are yet to come up with packages to promote it but are fully supportive of this new venture,’’ he said.