Tourism in Kenya is the second-largest source of foreign exchange revenue following agriculture.
The Kenya Tourism Board is responsible for maintaining information pertaining to tourism in Kenya
Beach tourism, eco-tourism, cultural tourism, and sports tourism are all part of the tourism sector in Kenya.
During the 1990s, the number of tourists travelling to Kenya decreased, partly due to the well-publicised murders of several tourists. However, tourism in Kenya is one of the leading sources of foreign exchange along with coffee.
Following the controversial 2007 presidential election and the 20072008 Kenyan crisis that followed, tourism revenues plummeted 54 percent from 2007 in the first quarter of 2008.It fell to 8.08 billion shillings (US$130.5 million) from 17.5 billion shillings in JanuaryMarch 2007 and a total of 130,585 tourists arrived in Kenya compared to over 273,000 that year. Tourist income from China dropped 10.7%, compared with over 50% from traditional revenue earners the United States and Europe. Domestic tourism improved by 45%, earning the tourist sector 3.65 billion shillings out of the 8.08 billion in the period being reviewed.
Conference tourism was badly hit during the first quarter, dropping by 87.4% compared to the growth that occurred in 2007. Conference attendance declined also with 974 people arriving in Kenya during that period while many conferences were cancelled. Business travel declined by 21 per cent during the time period and 35,914 travellers came into the country compared to 45,338 during the same period the year before.
Kenya won the Best Leisure Destination award at the World Travel Fair in Shanghai, China, in April 2008. The then permanent secretary in Kenya’s Ministry of Tourism, Rebecca Nabutola, stated that the award goes to testify that Kenya has a unique world acclaimed tourism product. The recognition will no doubt boost Kenya’s tourism and enhance its profile as a leading tourist destination.
Tourist numbers reached a peak of 1.8 million visitors in 2011 before sliding because of murders and terrorist attacks in 2013 and 2014 that prompted travel restrictions and advisories including from England. International tourist arrivals for 2013 were 1.49 million. Despite tourist advisories during the election period, Tourist Arrivals in Kenya increased to 105862 in December from 72573 in November of 2017. Tourist Arrivals in Kenya averaged 81987.29 from 2006 until 2017.
A large proportion of Kenya’s tourism centres on safaris and tours of its national parks and game reserves. While most tourists visit for safari there are also cultural aspects of the country to explore in cities like Mombasa and Lamu on the Coast. The Masai Mara National Reserve is usually where the Maasai Village can be found; a site that most tourists like to visit.
Kenya National Parks are controlled by Kenya Wildlife Services who look after and protect the areas. The wages of workers in the National Parks are usually funded by entrance fees charged for safaris and tours. Unlike Animal Reserves, National Parks allow strictly no human habitation. Kenyan national parks are a common tourist attraction in Kenya.
Amboseli National Park
Amboseli National Park, formerly Maasai Amboseli Game Reserve is in Kajiado County,in the Rift Valley of Kenya. The park is 390 km2 (150 sq mi) in size at the core of an 8,000 km2 (3,000 sq mi) ecosystem that spreads across the KenyaTanzania border. The local people are mainly Maasai, but people from other parts of the country have settled there attracted by the successful tourist-driven economy and intensive agriculture along the system of swamps that makes this low-rainfall area (average 350 millimetres (14 in) per year) one of the best wildlife-viewing experiences in the world. The park protects two of the five main swamps, and includes a dried-up Pleistocene lake and semi-arid vegetation.
The Maasai Mara National Reserve (also known as Maasai Mara, Masai Mara and by the locals as The Mara) is a large game reserve in Narok County, Kenya, established in 1961. Maasai Mara covers some 1,510 km2 (580 sq mi) (583 sq mi) It is globally famous for its exceptional population of lions, leopards and cheetahs, and the annual migration of zebra, Thomson’s gazelle, and wildebeest to and from the Serengeti every year from July to October, known as the Great Migration.
Mount Elgon National Park
Mount Elgon National Park is among the largest national park located in Trans Nzoia County 140 kilometres (87 mi)East of Lake Victoria. The park covers an area of 1,279 square kilometres (494 sq mi) (494 sq mi) bisected by the border of Kenya and Uganda. The Kenyan part covers 169 square kilometres which was gazetted in 1968. Main attraction to the park include fauna and flora, the park has a variety of scenery; this includes cliffs, caves, waterfalls, gorges, mesas, calderas, hot springs, and the mountain peaks. The most popular areas are the four explorable, vast caves.
Vehicle circuits leading to animal viewing areas, the caves and Koitoboss peak.
Self-guided walking trails
Hiking to Endebess Bluff and Koitoboss Peak
Primate and bird watching
Kora National Park
Kora National Park is located in Tana River County, Kenya. The park covers an area of 1,787 square kilometres (690 sq mi). It is located 125 kilometres (78 mi) east of Mount Kenya. The park was initially gazetted as a nature reserve in 1973. It was gazetted as a national park in 1990, following the murder of George Adamson by poachers.
Lake Nakuru National Park
Lake Nakuru National Park (168 km2 (65 sq mi)), created in 1961 around Lake Nakuru, to the south of Nakuru Town, in the Great Rift Valley. It is best known for its thousands, sometimes millions of flamingos nesting along the shores. The surface of the shallow lake is often hardly recognisable due to the continually shifting mass of pink. The number of flamingoes on the lake varies with water and food conditions and the best vantage point is from Baboon Cliff. Scientists have calculated that the Flamingoes feed on 250,000 kilograms of algae per year for each hectare of surface area (220,000 lb/acre). Also of interest is an area of 188 km (117 mi) around the lake fenced off as a sanctuary to protect Rothschild giraffes and black rhinos.
Tsavo Conservation Area
The Tsavo Conservation Area is a complex of protected and other wildlife areas in southern Kenya. Tsavo East National Park, & Tsavo West National Park are among the parks located inside the conservation area. Tsavo East National Park, & Tsavo West National Park are both divided by the Nairobi-Mombasa Highway (A109 Road) and a modern railway. The wider conservation area harbours Kenya’s largest elephant population, at 40% of Kenya’s total elephant population, as well as 18% of Kenya’s black rhino population.
Mount Kenya National Park
Mount Kenya National Park (0°07?S 37°20?E), established in 1949, protects the region surrounding Mount Kenya. Initially it was a forest reserve before being announced as a national park. Currently the national park is within the forest reserve which encircles it. In April 1978 the area was designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. The national park and the forest reserve, combined, became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997.
Nairobi National Park
Nairobi National Park became Kenya’s first national park when it was established in 1946. It is located approximately 7 kilometres (4 mi) south of the centre of Nairobi, Kenya’s capital city, and is small in relation to most of Africa’s national parks. Nairobi’s skyscrapers can be seen from the park. The park has a large and varied wildlife population. Only a fence separates the park’s animals from the city. Migrating herbivores concentrate in the park during the dry season. It is one of Kenya’s most successful rhinoceros
In 1995, there were 34,211 hotel beds with a 44% occupancy rate. 1,036,628 visitors arrived in Kenya in 2000 and tourism receipts totalled $257 million. That year, the US government estimated the average cost of staying in Nairobi at $202 per day, compared to $94 to $144 per day in Mombasa, depending on the time of year. In 2013, the Ugandan Tourism Board recognized Kenya’s tourism industry as generating an amount of $66 million annually from Ugandan tourists.]
Ecotourism is the responsible travel of people to natural areas while maintaining a high priority of the conservation of the host country’s environment and local community’s lifestyles. This differs from mass tourism, which is a more organized and mainstream movement of larger numbers of people to specialized locations, or popular destinations, such as resorts. Mass tourism is often offered in package deals where the tourist can purchase a plane ticket, hotel, activities, food, etc. from one single company. This type of tourism is usually not concerned with environmental impact or climate change and puts business and revenue as its top priority, whereas the main goal of ecotourism is to make minimal impact on local communities while improving their state of well-being. The rise of ecotourism has annually increased by 10-15% worldwide, and 20% of that tourism accounts for travel to the global south, with a 6% increase each year in tourism specifically to third world countries. Kenya’s wildlife and unique landscapes have attracted a growth in ecotourism, and much of its economy is now primarily sustained by foreign revenue brought in by tourism, causing a myriad of positive and negative impacts to its culture, ecosystems, and the lifestyles of its local people.