Thanks to an agreement signed on Monday in Nairobi, Mount Kenya National Park, and Mt. Huangshan National Park in China are now sister parks. The designation is expected to help both facilities improve the management of each park’s natural resources, heritage and environments. Officials from both China and Kenya say the sister park relationship could also boost international tourism between the two nations.
“The establishment of sister parks between Mt. Huangshan and Mt.Kenya and the exchange and cooperation between Huangshan city and Meru County in cultural and sports tourism cannot be separated from the strong support of the Ministry of Wildlife and Tourism and other departments,” said Mt Huangshan Administrative Committee Executive Director Wu Wenda.
Meru County, Kenya Governor, Kiraitu Murungi echoed Mr. Wu’s sentiments.
“When I visited China last year, I toured Mt Huangshan and was impressed by the infrastructural development therein,” Murungi said in a post on Facebook. “I believe this arrangement is going to boost the influx of tourists into Mt Kenya National Park and create more employment for our people.”
Monday’s sister park event was marked by the opening of a photo exhibition in Kenya’s National Museum. The photo exhibition is open to the public through the end of December and features scenic images and wildlife from both parks.
Both parks are UNESCO World Heritage Sites which host spectacular views as well as rich forest ecosystems. The Chinese delegation commended their Kenyan counterparts for doing a “very good job in the system protection of wild animals and plants and ecotourism, which has been recognized by the whole world.”
“This is what we need to focus on learning.” Mr. Wu said.
The Kenyans hope the sister-park designation will also help establish Mount Kenya as a site for international mountain climbing competitions. Huangshan City has successfully held 15 international mountaineering competitions since 2000. Meru County hopes to follow suit by hosting a similar event in 2020 in hopes of attracting more domestic and foreign tourists.
According to UNESCO, Mount Huangshan National Park attracts 2.74 million visitors every year. Figures from Mount Kenya indicate 26,000 people visit the facility annually.