By Dama Kalama
Kenyans will soon enjoy the National Museums of Kenya (NMK) collections from anywhere on the globe once digitization of its heritage is completed as part of the sector’s recovery plan due to Covid-19 shocks.
Dr Mzalendo Kibunjia, the NMK director general, affirmed that the lucrative heritage sector is embarking on digital revenue through virtual tours to seal revenue gaps exposed by the pandemic crisis.
This means that tourists will not necessarily need to travel to some key heritage sites in the country but instead they can learn and explore the rich heritage collections through online platforms or virtually at an affordable fee.
“There will be a login system for people to access the virtual museum. The first stage of access will be free but using the digital images will require a special login that is paid for,” says Dr Kibunjia.
The new development, according to Dr Kibunjia, is informed by coronavirus threats that have seen restrictions hit the museums throughout the country due to lack of local or international visitors.
Through digital technology, NMK believes the museums spread in the country can attract revenues via virtual tours to overcome the physical visits because Covid-19 has drastically reduced the same since Kenya’s first case in March this year.
“We have suffered from a revenue crunch since Covid-hit us because it will take time before we recover. Therefore, we are now embracing digital marketing where tourists can go online and access our heritages with little pay although we are yet to start charging,” he says.
In its recovery strategies, NMK is now training heritage sites personnel at the Coast region on how they can make use of digital marketing and attract tourists while expressing confidence that this new strategy will plough in revenue.
The official made the remarks on the sidelines of a three days training workshop on the effect of climate change to heritage sites to curators and how they can mitigate the challenges in the region.
“As you know, the rising sea levels is really affecting a lot of heritage sites in Kenya, including Fort Jesus, Jumba la Mtwana in Mtwapa, Siu in Lamu and also Shimoni heritage sites. Therefore, we are training them how to manage disaster management and how they can preserve them to avert crisis in future,” Dr Kibunjia adds.
Mohamed Mwenje, a curator at Lamu Museums, expressed confidence that the heritage sector will bounce back after efforts to revamp them bear fruits.
The Sh15 Million project is supported by different global partners and seeks to protect and preserve the heritage sites across the Coastline from the threats of climate change.
“Many of the sites are sitting on coastline and are at the threats of being eroded by rising water levels, we are building walls to protect them as well as ensuring we do capacity building to our staff working in the cities,” says Mwenje.
Other sector recovery plans include live exhibitions that are aimed at revamping the heritage sector.
Among them is the recently launched Enchanting Multimedia Sound and Light Show at the Historical Fort Jesus, for four days every week to ensure residents get the historical background of the over 400 years old monument.