NAIROBI, Oct 24 (Reuters) Kenya's one billion dollars tourism industry was today urged to introduce energy-saving and other environmentally friendly steps to fight climate change.
The head of a trade association representing hotels, lodges, tour operators and local communities, said it was vital the lucrative sector adopt sustainable practices.
''We are reviewing our certification criteria to ensure that compliance with measures aimed at mitigating global warming is included,'' said Judy Kepher-Gona of Ecotourism Kenya.
Her group's certification scheme lets foreign visitors and Kenyans compare the green credentials of the east African country's many tourist facilities, as well as the assistance those businesses provide to local residents.
As part of a new drive to promote environmentally sound policies, it is encouraging operators to redraw tour itineraries to ensure efficient use of energy -- for instance, by replacing high-energy activities like game drives with nature walks.
It is also urging members to examine the possibilities of using renewable energies like solar and wind power, and to source more of their food for guests from local producers.
Kepher-Gona said her association was also encouraging members to offset emissions of carbon dioxide by replanting trees in depleted areas.
Famed for its white beaches and abundant wildlife, Kenya made 800 million dollars from tourism in 2006, making the industry its best hard currency earner ahead of horticulture and tea.
This year, the tourist board expects revenues to top $ one billion dollars for the first time.
REUTERS SG RK1810