Africa Travel Blog

The Future of Kenya’s Tourism Industry Looks Promising in Spite of Recent Struggles

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Tourism is a vital industry for the economy of Kenya, with the country’s diverse wildlife, beautiful beaches, and rich culture attracting millions of visitors each year. However, like many other countries around the world, Kenya’s tourism industry has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since the outbreak of the pandemic, Kenya has taken several measures to curb its spread, including closing its borders, imposing travel restrictions, and implementing quarantine measures for incoming visitors. While these measures have been effective in controlling the spread of the virus, they have also had a significant impact on the tourism industry, which has seen a significant decline in visitor numbers.

According to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, the number of international visitors to Kenya dropped by 72% in 2020, compared to the previous year. This has had a significant impact on the country’s economy, with the tourism industry contributing around 10% of Kenya’s GDP and employing around 2.5 million people.

One of the hardest-hit sectors in the tourism industry has been the wildlife safari business, which is a major attraction for tourists visiting Kenya. With the closure of national parks and game reserves, safari operators have been unable to conduct tours, leading to significant revenue losses. Many safari operators have had to lay off staff or reduce salaries to stay afloat.

However, the Kenyan government has taken steps to support the tourism industry during these challenging times. For instance, in August 2020, the government announced a $90 million stimulus package to support the industry, including providing low-interest loans to tour operators and hotels. The government has also waived park entry fees for Kenyan citizens to encourage domestic tourism.

These measures have had some success, with domestic tourism helping to cushion the industry from the worst effects of the pandemic. Local travel restrictions have led to Kenyans exploring their own country and discovering new destinations they might not have previously considered. This has led to a significant increase in domestic tourism, with local tourists accounting for over 70% of all visitors to the country in 2020.

The tourism industry has also adapted to the new normal, with many operators introducing health and safety protocols to protect visitors and staff. For instance, hotels have implemented measures such as mandatory mask-wearing, temperature checks, and increased sanitization. Safari operators have also introduced measures such as reducing the number of passengers per vehicle to ensure social distancing.

Moreover, as vaccination rates continue to increase globally, the future of the Kenyan tourism industry looks promising. The government is working closely with international partners to promote Kenya as a safe and attractive destination for international tourists. The country has also been added to the UK government’s travel corridor list, which means that visitors from the UK can travel to Kenya without having to quarantine upon their return.

In conclusion, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the Kenyan tourism industry, with visitor numbers declining and many businesses struggling to stay afloat. However, the government’s measures to support the industry, the increase in domestic tourism, and the adaptation to new health and safety protocols have helped to cushion the industry from the worst effects of the pandemic. With the vaccine rollout underway and the government’s efforts to promote Kenya as a safe and attractive destination, the future of the Kenyan tourism industry looks promising.

Derek Cullen is an experienced overland tour leader in Africa. He is best known for cycling across Africa and writing about travel in Africa for many online media publications. If you would like advice or information for your trip to Africa, you can speak with him directly through the LiveChat box!

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