Positioning the gastronomic identity of kenya’s coastal strip: perspectives of guests on the region’s signature foods using an integrated approach
Wekesa, Pepela Anthony
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Though gastronomy had developed considerably through the ages due to the benefits it brought to destinations, not all destinations, Kenya included, had capitalised on the potential opportunities it provided as a tourist attraction. Additionally, not all destinations that had tried to use food in their marketing activities did it effectively. This study, therefore, looked at prospects of positioning the Kenyan coastal culinary scene by first segmenting the prospective market, distinguishing the region‟s gastronomy from those of other destinations, targeting the key components that would improve it, and then positioning it with a view of enabling the coastal strip include the region‟s signature foods as a part of its destination cluster. The study sought to; determine the areas of commonality in the way guests perceived gastronomy and chose food outlets at the Kenyan coastal strip (KCS) based on their demographic and psychographic profiles, establish their level of satisfaction to the quality of the region‟s signature foods, and distinguish their perception of the region‟s gastronomic identity. The study adopted a cross sectional analytical design which was conducted in the Northern circuit of Kenya‟s coastal strip. The population consisted of individuals who visited the eateries and service providers in the region. While a total of 359 guests were approached, a response rate of 89.7% was achieved, accounting for 322 questionnaires. An interview schedule that targeted 18 gastronomic service providers had a 100% response rate. An observation check-list was also used. These research instruments were pre-tested to adduce their validity and reliability and then updated before the actual collection of data. The collected data was screened and analysed using Chi-square independent test based on Monte Carlo Exact Test, Cross tabulations, Mann Whitney, Kruskal Wallis, and Multinomial logistic regression. Data was presented by use of graphs, tables, pie-charts and percentages, while qualitative data was presented by verbatim quotations and a manual content analysis. The results indicated a gastronomic market actually existed in the Kenyan coastal region. A significant difference existed between the guests‟ demographic profile and their physiological inclination (χ2 = 30.557, df = 7, p = 0.0001; α = 0.05) as well as their phenomenological inclination (χ2 = 196.742, df = 87, p = 0.0001; α = 0.05). Further the guests‟ physiological inclination reliably predicted their phenomenological inclination (χ2 67.975, df = 3, p = 0.0001; α = 0.05). While a Significant difference was not found (χ2 = 4.537, df = 4, P = 0.338) among guests with a physiological inclination, it was found for guests with phenomenological inclination (χ2 = 15.885, df = 1, p = 0.000; α = 0.05) in as far as their distinction of the regions gastronomic identity was concerned. It was therefore recommended that in order to take advantage of the existing gastronomic product and position the region as a gastronomic tourism destination; gastronomic guests could be segmented by either their physiological or phenomenological inclinations. In regards to their physiological inclination, the needs of neophilic guests could be targeted in deciding the quality and level of appeal (taste and appearance respectively), and distinction of the Kenyan Coastal Signature Foods (KCSF) from what was partaken of from other regions. In terms of the guests‟ phenomenological inclination, the quality of the KCSF could be adduced based on the diversionary and recreational guests‟ texture and taste needs. The guests with an experimental affinity could be used to distinguish the KCSF based on appearance smell and texture. As such, all the sensory qualities of the KCSF could be used to position the Kenyan coastal strip as a destination cluster.