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Chinese volunteers boost Kenya's tourism sector
Hu Dongdong knows the history of Karen Blixen House, one of the historical sites in the Kenyan capital city of Nairobi, more than most locals.
The 26-year-old employee of the PowerChina International Group is a volunteer guide and translator for the growing number of Chinese tourists who visit the museum located 10 kilometers from the city center.
Hu told Xinhua that he chose to work as a guide at the site due to the inspiration drawn from the life of Karen Blixen, the Danish author who lived in the facility between 1917 to 1931 during the colonial times in Kenya.
"She is a role model because of the way she treated and interacted with the local community," Hu said.
Hu normally volunteers at the museum during the weekends when he is not at work. "I like my duties because the Chinese guests appreciate my work," he added.
Hu is among the eight volunteers who spend their weekends guiding fellow Chinese nationals who visit the historical site.
The National Museum of Kenya (NMK) has partnered with the PowerChina International to reduce the language barrier and hence improve its service to Chinese tourists.
Damaris Rotich, the Senior Curator at the Nairobi Museum, said the Karen Blixen Museum has seen an upsurge in the number of Chinese tourists.
Rotich said that given that most Chinese visitors are not fluent in English, this has created a communication gap between the Chinese and local guides.
"The Chinese volunteers therefore are a vital resource that will help to increase our service provision towards Chinese visitors," she said.
According to the NMK, the Karen Blixen Museum receives between 50,000 and 60,000 visitors annually with Chinese nationals making up approximately ten percent of the guests.
"We hope that the Chinese tour guides will significantly increase the share of Chinese visitors," he added.
Rotich said tourists from the Asian country could help Kenya diversify its tourist revenues that has traditionally relied on international visitors from the west.
When Blixen lived in the farm house, it consisted of 4,500 acres of farm land as well as a coffee processing facility.
The historical site currently consists of all her household belongings that depict her life and cordial relationship with the locals.
Karen Blixen house which sits on 12.5 acres of land, was converted into a heritage site in 1985 after it gained international fame following the release of Hollywood movie "Out of Africa" which is based on a book with a similar title authored by Blixen.

Rotich said the movie helped to raise the profile of the Karen Blixen Museum which served as a setting of the film that won several Oscar Academy Awards.
She added that one of the most prized possessions of Blixen that are on display at the museum are the Chinese artifacts including a rich collection of Chinese porcelain.
Liu Heng, a-28 year-old employee of PowerChina also serves as a tour guide at Karen Blixen Museum.
Liu said the time spent as a volunteer is very rewarding as it helps to cement Sino-Kenya ties.
"My translation work for the museums helps the Chinese understand Kenya's rich cultural and dynamic heritage especially during the colonial era," Liu added.
He revealed that he was also inspired to volunteer by the life of Blixen who had a deep appreciation of the African people.
He added that there is growing interest among Chinese nationals to learn the history of the African continent.
According to the Chinese tour guide, the peak season for Chinese tourists in Kenya is between June to September during the Chinese summer vacation when Chinese tend to take their children to overseas trips.
  Source: Xinhua Net

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