Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Homestays Concept in Kenya

Until recently when the revolutionary concept of homestays’ ownership was introduced in Kenya, relatively few people have ventured into the business. It has become clear that there is need to add a variety and flexibility to the homestays product. While many people are attracted to the idea, majority are still sceptical and are reluctant to commit themselves to profiling for fear of being overburdened by regulatory requirements.

The prime objective of homestay product profiling remains, nurturing the idea for facilitation and development of acceptable standards coupled with packaging for promotion and marketing purposes. The homestays niche product will further enhance the envisaged increase in bed capacity countrywide as well as enable tourists plan their holiday trips to various regions of the Country.

Kenya Community Based Tourism Network (KECOBAT) in collaboration with the Ministry of East African Affairs, Commerce and Tourism has been involved in the development of homestays in Kenya for the past seven years. In 2008, together with key stakeholders and chaired by the Ministry, Kenya developed its own definition of homestays.

Definition of Homestays

‘Homestay is a unique hospitality system in which the tourist stays with the family as a member of the family. It aims at equipping the tourist with the knowledge of the hosts’ way of life such as the agricultural system, folk arts, sculptures sports and cuisine’

Similarly, although focus is on homestays, some establishment’s operating under various names ranging from guest houses, resorts or farmsteads providing accommodation, bed and breakfast in a countryside environment within homes or village are essentially homestays.

 Homestays thus are a unique hospitality system under home owner-occupied private residence, where the primary aim is residence, and the secondary purpose is providing accommodation to a few paying guests. The tourist stays with the family as a member of the family. The homes become a safe, affordable housing for visitors looking forward to experiencing and enjoying the host’s cultural lifestyle. A homestay is typically located in a residential area within a village, community or urban environment. The home owner may have one or more rooms to rent. It is usually a very relaxed type of accommodation, keeping the majority of space for the Hosts family.

Criteria of Homestays Validation

In 2009/2010 KECOBAT together with the government through Ministry of Tourism held a series of workshops across the country to develop guidelines and criteria for homestays. This was later validated during a one day National Stakeholders Workshop held on 17thDecember, 2010 at Bomas of Kenya, Nairobi. The criteria was prepared by KECOBAT and was later adopted by the government. The Criteria of Homestays document is a government property and is in force for both potential and already operating homestays owners.

You can download the Criteria of Homestays here.


KECOBAT since then has attempted to compile identified operational Homestays suitable for accreditation and implementation of the approved standards guideline. The profiling is intended to capture at least 100 homestays for every 47 counties organized into major tourist circuits. The compilation looks at existing homestays product information detailing physical location of the establishments and adjacent natural attractions that are of interest to tourist and critical for their sustainability.

The homestays information highlights the homestays’ name and the owner, the location and the contacts followed by pictorial views of the home type and its room count. The compilation also looks at number of beds in accordance in demonstration of the sub sector’s contribution towards increasing bed capacity envisaged under the Vision 2030.

Marketing of Homestays in Kenya 

In the current scenario, there is a huge limitation for already operating Homestay owners to attract business beyond a particular level, which most of the time, translates to only a very low income.
The constraints that Homestay owners face are in terms of volume of business, whether sufficient amount of income is generated, marketing is always a big challenge. Homestays owners are therefore not able to have marketing wing like Hotels, limiting them to have an international outreach coupled with lack of knowledge in marketing.

A special marketing strategy has been developed by KECOBAT through its homestays website www.homestayskenya.org that will ensure that Homestays Operators will overcome all the above constraints without spending a fortune on it. The main aim of advanced Marketing by Homestays Kenya all over the world is to increase the number of tourists visiting homestays already accredited by KECOBAT and licensed by the government.


For more information please visit homestayskenya.org or kecobat.org

Or Contact Us Directly:

Email: info@kecobat.org
Telephone: +254 (0) 20 231 9458

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