Najib Balala skydives 10,000 feet to promote tourism

Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala skydived from over 10,000 feet above sea level in an act designed to promote coastal tourism and protect endangered turtle species.

He was cheered on by tourists, local residents and conservationists gathered on the beaches of Ocean Sports Restaurant in Watamu, on Sunday.

The skydive was to tell the world that Kenya's coastal tourism has much more to offer than just beach relaxation and swimming.

"We are telling the whole world that there are many ways to see Kenya, and from high above, I was able to see Watamu and its adjoining touristic town of Malindi with its beautiful sites and white sandy beaches," Mr Balala said soon after he touched down.

He said the Coast provides a lot of engaging activities that one can partake on the beaches, and in the clear blue ocean waters like snorkeling, diving, wind surfing and kite surfing.

"These all add up to the Kenyan coast's diverse attractions," the CS said.

Balala had taken off from Vipingo Centre, about 60kms away on board a specialized sky jump aircraft, a Cessna 206, in the company of sky jump instructors.

Veteran sky dive instructor Yannick Weyn guided the CS during the historic tandem jump, which is the best way to discover skydiving.

Physically attached to an instructor, you jump together, giving you all the thrill of a skydive, with none of the stress of managing your descent and parachute along the way.

Make It Kenya partnered with Herdtracker to use a combination of film technology and Twitter's Periscope application to give people around the world a chance to view Balala sky jumping and the release of a rehabilitated endangered Hawks Bill sea turtle back into the ocean after it underwent a successful rescue by the Watamu Turtle Watch project.

Balala also officiated the release of a rehabilitated rare Hawks Bill turtle, which had been wrongly caught in a fisherman's net and rescued by the Watamu Turtle Watch Group, into the sea.

The released turtle, which was tagged and fitted with a tracking device, was named 'Balala' after the Tourism CS.

"This is part of responsible tourism and taking care of all what nature provides in a more sustainable way for prosperity," he said.

Watamu Turtle Watch Manager Casper Van de Geer said that since the inception of the turtle watch group, they have been able to rescue, tag and release over 7,000 turtles.

"We view this as quite an achievement in key conservation efforts," Mr Geer said.

One of the released turtles in 2004 was found in Diego Garcia, deep within the Indian Ocean along the Chagos Archipelago, a distance of over 3700kms from Watamu.