Land Alienation, Land Tenure and Tourism in Maasailand, Kenya

Land is a primary resource for international tourism development. The relationship of indigenous
systems of land tenure, and the history of land alienation to tourism in African nations, however, is
problematic. Governments of some African nations are now emphasizing the traditional land
rights of indigenous people in determining land use for economic development. Land is a key
resource for the local participation of the Kenyan people in development, and indigenous land
claims are a volatile political issue. There has been little substantive research on tourism and land
tenure in Kenya. This paper examines the history of the problem of land alienation, the nature of
traditional land tenure, and the relation of current land use claims to tourist development in
Maasailand. Land alienations are tied to modern tourist developments, and issues of land tenure
are a central aspect of debate in Maasailand. Suggestions are offered for regional planning for
tourism, and local control of tourist development and land use.