The ESOK Eco-rating Scheme: A Certification
Scheme for Tourist Accommodation Facilities in Kenya
November 7, 2002
Kenya’s tourism industry will achieve yet another first. Kenya
will become the first African destination to implement a voluntary certification
scheme, aimed at checking and improving the performance of tourism accommodation
facilities in a bid to further the goals of sustainable development.
The scheme, dubbed the ESOK Eco-rating Scheme, can be described as a voluntary
initiative for sustainable tourism. Under this scheme, Eco-rating is defined as
a systematic approach for verifying an organizations’ performance when evaluated
against an agreed set of criteria (environmental/socio-cultural and economic).
In developing this scheme, the Kenyan tourism industry had come to the realisation
that like consumers of other goods and services, consumers in the tourism industry
require clear and reliable information about goods and services in the tourism
industry. This certification scheme provides that orientation, along with guarantees
of quality standards for different accommodation facilities. Apart from responding
to changing consumer needs, the industry was concerned about the future of the
natural resource base upon which tourism is dependant. The concern has been about
the limits on consumption of the natural resource base, limits on destination
space, limits on pollution-in short the limits of mass tourism.
The scheme, a quality assurance logo, is one amongst other tools that will
help the industry to deal with these limits and to show that a product/service
does not have negative environmental/socio-economic impacts.
The envisaged benefits of the scheme in the short and medium term are the potential
to attract more tourists, while at the same time enabling significant resource
management related savings to tourism businesses. In the longer term, sound environmental
management and social accountability aimed at benefiting local communities are
central for ensuring sustainable tourism development.
The scheme, developed by the Ecotourism Society of Kenya (ESOK), on behalf
of Kenya’s tourism industry, is the product of several stakeholder consultations.