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Camel racing a tourist attraction

02 August 2013, 14:39

Nairobi - Kenya's tourism marketers plan to use this year's Maralal camel derby festival, which has gained international recognition, to showcase the country's tourism circuit in northern region.

Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) said the East African nation will use the Samburu Maralal Camel Derby, to be held on Aug. 30-Sept. 1, to diversify its tourism offerings, which usually include traditional beach and wildlife game.

"This is one of the key events; we are leveraging on to open up the northern tourism circuit in line with our tourism diversification strategy," KTB Managing Director Murithi Ndegwa said on Thursday.

"A part from showcasing the culture, the region is known for spectacular sceneries, unique wildlife species, heritage and other attractions," said Ndegwa.

Last year, the annual event attracted a sizable number of domestic and regional participants as well as those from the U.S., Britain, Germany, Netherlands, India, Ghana, France, South Africa, Brazil, China, Poland among others.


The derby will also showcase cultural activities, the most prominent being two weddings that will let the visitors get the full glimpse of some of the most ethnic practices by the local communities.

People of Samburu area are traditionally pastoralists although some groups have started promoting subsistence farming to help people diversify their food sources in a bid to mitigate against the effects of climate change that sometimes led to severe drought.

Samburu people and other pastoralists are renowned for preserving their traditional cultural practices from food to dressing, which are an attraction to tourists from local and foreign markets.

Ndegwa said enquiries from various countries are being made; an indication of interest the annual event has continually attracted over the years both locally and internationally.

Ndegwa said marketing and publicity campaigns have been organized to increase tourists flow to the region during the derby.

Samburu County Governor, Moses Kasaine Lenolkulal, said the County is partnering with KTB and other sponsors to boost the profile of the sporting event that has been attracting both local and international participation, disclosing that the annual event has registered participants from 16 countries in the past years.

"This event is meant to pull the crowds and sports enthusiasts to the northern part of the country which has a number of unexplored tourism attractions. As Samburu County, we shall aggressively market this circuit with the help of KTB," Lenolkulal said.

"Under our theme of promoting peace through Culture and Sports, we have lined up camel races for the amateurs and professionals, peace marathons, bike competition, traditional dances, cultural shows, culinary show among other cultural exchanges from a wider array of traditional neighboring ethnic groups," he said.

Lenolkulal said the winners of different categories will be awarded with prizes while some money will be channeled towards helping the poor and vulnerable groups such as orphans and disabled in the community.

The camel race is among several organised games across the country that use domestic animals for racing competitions.

Other sports and cultural events

In the historical heritage town of Lamu in the Kenya's coastal region, donkeys are used for racing competition during the Lamu Cultural Festival that will be held in December this year.

In Nairobi, a race involving goats is also held annually at the Ngong Race Course, the same venue for the horse racing competitions.

In Western Kenya, bull-fighting as well as cock-fights are popular cultural practises and among tourism highlights that is being promoted by the KTB.

- Xinhua

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