Influence of Cultural Practices on Tourism Development in Baringo County, Kenya
Chebotibin, Diana J.
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Baringo is a cultures-diverse county that hosts communities including the Pokot, Ilchamus, Tugen and other Kenyan communities. This makes the county a true definition of social and cultural diversity. Although Baringo is known for cultural diversity, existence of item based tourism rather than market based poses a danger to cultural tourism development. Whilst stiff competition is encountered on conventional tourists‟ destination, there is need of increasing supply of cultural attractions in Baringo. The study investigated the influence of cultural practices on tourism development in Baringo County, Kenya. Exploratory research design utilizing mixed method that is qualitative and quantitative methods was used. The target unit of analysis was the 7 Destination managers, 3 county government officials, 399 Community members and 395 tourists. The sample size used was 804 respondents. Data was collected by administration of questionnaires and interview guide. Data was analyzed using content analysis, descriptive statistics and inferential statistics which are the Pearson correlation and regression. The findings both for tourists and community members indicated that there was a positive and significant relationship between cultural practices (cultural festivals, custom & artefacts and traditional rituals) and tourism development in Baringo County. Cultural festival and tourism development were positively and significant related (r=0.228, p=0.00). Result also indicated that customs & artefacts and tourism development were positively and significant related (r=0.223, p=0.00). Similarly, it was established that traditional rituals and tourism development were positively and significantly related (r=0.129, p=0.001). However, cattle rustling had a negative effect on tourism development in Baringo County (r= -0.024), p=0.497). The regression analysis indicated that cultural festivals had the largest influence on tourism development, followed by custom & artefacts, traditional rituals and finally cattle rustling with negative influence on tourism development. The other factors that attracted tourists to Baringo County included Lake Bogoria National Reserve, Lake Baringo, rugged terrains and beautiful valleys. Tourism development is influenced by cultural practices which if well developed, it could lead to fast tourism development in Baringo County. From the findings and conclusion made, the following recommendations were made; new tourism products should be developed from culture, culture has a huge untapped potential for tourism. The traditional rituals whose permission is granted should be developed for tourism attraction e.g. rain making process and traditional cleansing ceremonies. Cultural festivals should be prioritized in the tourism sector, so that it can boost tourism as well as conserving the culture. Customs and artefacts should be profiled and documented for easy access by the tourists. Cattle rustling should be fully eradicated to avoid tourism migration.