The Socio-economic impacts of Sport Tourism in West Pokot County: Lessons from Tegla Loroupe Peace races in Kenya

Jonathan Plimo Ng’oriarita


The purpose of this study was to examine the socio-economic impacts of Sport tourism in West Pokot County, North Rift region of Kenya. Kenya, one of Africa’s success stories in terms of tourism development has over a long period of time relied on beach, Safari and conference tourism products; most of which are already tired and sterile (World Bank, 2010). The geographical location of these three tourist products have over time determined the distribution of tourism benefits in the country, with regions endowed with these resources benefiting from tourism, while areas with no such resources being left behind in terms of tourism benefits. However, the clarion call in Kenya for the need to diversify her tourism products has resulted in regions and destinations venturing into the development of alternative forms of tourism. One such product is sport tourism. The North Rift region, the cradle of Kenya’s athletic prowess has witnessed increase in sport related excursions, participations and involvements; and one such unique sport that has gained currency in West Pokot County is the annual Tegla Loroupe peace race. Founded by Tegla Loroupe (appearing as Tecla Lorupe in some sections of the media), a Marathon icon, Tegla Loroupe peace races has been held in the county since the year 2003 with the main aim of not only building peace among the warring pastoralist communities but also to introduce new socio-economic alternatives to pastoralism that is facing tremendous decline as a result of shrinking pasture fields, drought, animal epidemics and frequent cattle rustling. Cattle raids among the pastoralist communities have hindered development in the area and dented the region’s image before the investors who have shied away from the area. The study employed a mixed methods approach to undertake an in-depth study to examine the socio-economic impacts of sport tourism in West Pokot County. A total of 200 questionnaires administered to members of the local community out of which 154 were dully filled and returned, representing a 77% return rate. Both descriptive and inferential data analysis techniques were employed in analyzing the respondents’ feelings about the socio-economic impacts of sport tourism in the region.  The findings indicate that sport tourism is viable tool for socio-economic development and cultural transformation among communities living in rural areas such as West Pokot County.  Specifically, the study established that sport tourism has a high multiplier effect on traditional economic sectors such as agriculture, pastoralism, cultural extravaganza, local trade, arts and crafts among others. The study recommends for the creation of adequate sports infrastructure in rural and peripheral areas so as to stimulate more sport participation among the local communities.

Keywords: Sport tourism; Socio-economic development; Tegla Loroupe peace races; West Pokot County.

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ISSN (Paper) 2312-5187   ISSN (Online) 2312-5179

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