Kenya remains one of the most popular destinations in Africa, with about 6 per cent of overseas visitors to the continent. Since its independence in 1963, tourism
has played a vital role for Kenya's economic development
as it greatly contributes to the foreign exchange
earnings and creates wage employment
of about 8 per cent. Growth
was rapid during the 1970s and 1980s, reaching a record high of 863,400 foreign arrivals in 1994. Since then, the growth has recorded some slight decline.
Approximately one half of tourism development is located in the coastal region
and focused on beach recreation
. Wildlife viewing, particularly in the popular parks and reserves of Amboseli, Maasai Mara, Lake Nakuru and Sam-buru is a major tourism activity. Other
attractions include historical and archaeological sites, and the diverse culture
of the Kenyan people. The tourism sector has experienced tremendous growth in hotels, tours and travel
agencies. By 1993, the number of hotel bed-nights available reached about 12 million with an average occupancy rate
of around 60 per cent. Most international tourists arrive by air in Nairobi and Mombasa. Besides Kenya Airways, the country is served by forty international airlines
and a dozen air charter
companies from Europe.
for tourism, as well as for general use, varies appreciably. Due to rapid coastal hotel development
, pressure on the supply
of water and electricity has recently been experienced. The road network is fairly extensive. Kenya Railways provides first-class
service among major towns, particularly between Nairobi and Mombasa. Over the years, Europe has been the major generator for tourists to Kenya, accounting
for 60 per cent of total arrivals. The government
, in conjunction with the private sector, has intensified promotional activities in all major tourist
-generating markets, notably Western Europe and North America. Since 1987, tourism has been the leading foreign exchange earner in the country, with a value of $436 million (about 33 per cent of total exports in 1993).
of allowing inclusive tour
charter operations is controversial in terms of the overall benefits
such tourists generate to the country, when compared to the impacts of mass tourism
. Kenya's general tourism development strategy over the past 30 years has been to gradually increase the number of tourists. However, according to the current development plan (1997-2000), the focus is on attracting up-market
, higher spending tourists. It is the responsibility of the government to ensure quality service is delivered to this target market through its organs, such as the Kenya Tourist Board, Kenya Tourist Development Corporation and Kenya Utalii College. The latter trains personnel to work in tourism-related organisations, while the former assists in financing tourism-oriented enterprises. Considerable progress has been accomplished in recent years on conservation
through the activities of the Kenya Wildlife Service
. However, various pressures prevail on the natural environment
and major conservation efforts are still required.
For effective promotion
of tourism, Kenya operates offices in major tourist generating markets, especially Germany
, the United States
, the United Kingdom
. In addition, the country participates in international trade fairs
in an attempt to promote the country as a destination
. The 1996 World Travel Market in London witnessed the launching of the Kenya Tourism Board. It is expected that this Board
will alleviate some of the existing problems associated with planning
, funding, coordination and promotion of tourism in Kenya. As the world becomes environmentally conscious of the need to reassess its needs, each country will have to evaluate the type of tourism that suits it best. As a matter of policy, Kenya continues to discourage the low-budget tourists who have contributed to environmental degradation in other parts of the world, focusing instead on up-market tourists who are more sensitive to nature
. If quality tourism management policies are effected, Kenya's industry
could be developed and sustained for the present and future
generations without disturbing nature's delicate balance.
Kenya Economic Survey
(1995, 1996) Nairobi: Government Printers.
Kenya National Development Plan (1994-6, 1997-2001) Nairobi: Government Printers.
Kenya Wildlife Service (1990) A Policy Framework and Development Programme, 1991-1996, Nairobi: Government Printers.
Kibara, O.N. (1994) 'Tourism development in Kenya: the government's involvement and influence', MSc. thesis, University of Surrey.
Ouma, J.PB.M. (1970) Evolution
of Tourism in East Africa, Nairobi: East African Literature Bureau.