Tourism in Kenya : After remittances from the diaspora and agriculture, tourism is Kenya’s third-largest source of foreign exchange earnings. Maintaining information regarding tourism in Kenya is the responsibility of the Kenya Tourism Board. The tourist industry in Kenya includes beach tourism, ecotourism, cultural tourism, and sports tourism. The well-publicized killings of numerous tourists during the 1990s contributed to a decline in the number of visitors visiting Kenya. However, with coffee, one of the main sources of foreign exchange in Kenya is tourism.

The first quarter of 2008 had a 54 percent decline in tourism income from the same period in 2007, following the contentious 2007 presidential election and the subsequent Kenyan crisis in 2007-2008. It decreased from KSh.17.5 billion in January to March 2007 to KSh.8.08 billion (US$130.5 million), and 130,585 tourists visited Kenya overall as opposed to almost 273,000 in that year. Compared to traditional revenue generators in the United States and Europe, China’s tourist revenue fell by 10.7%, while it increased by almost 50%. Out of the KSh.8.08 billion in the studied period, domestic tourism increased by 45%, bringing in KSh.3.65 billion for the tourism industry.

The first quarter had a significant decline in conference travel, down 87.4% from the rise seen in 2007.There was a reduction in conference attendance as well, with 974 persons coming in Kenya during that time and many conferences being postponed. During that time, there were 21% fewer business travellers entering the country 35,914 as opposed to 45,338 during the same period the year before.

In April 2008, Kenya won the Best Leisure Destination prize at the Shanghai World Travel Fair. According to Rebecca Nabutola, who was Kenya’s permanent secretary at the time, the award “goes to demonstrate that Kenya has a distinctive, internationally acknowledged tourism product. Without a doubt, the recognition will increase tourism and raise Kenya’s status as a premier travel destination.

A total of 2,048,334 people travelled to Kenya in 2019; 1,423,971 of them went to Nairobi, 128,222 went to Mombasa, and 27,447 went by ground through other airports. 2019 had a 1,167% increase in Kenya. Jomo Kenyatta International Airport and Moi International Airport also had notable increase, increasing by 6.07% and 8.56%, respectively, on top of this total rise. An achievement in African tourism worth $1.6 billion is attributed to Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Tourism, Najib Balala.

Ecotourism in Kenya

People who engage in ecotourism ethically visit natural places while placing a high value on protecting the ecology and way of life of the host nation. This contrasts with mass tourism, which is a more planned and mainstream migration of bigger crowds of people to particular places or “popular destinations,” such resorts. Package are frequently available for mass tourism, enabling customers to book a flight, a hotel, activities, meals, and other services from a single business. While the primary objective of ecotourism is to have as little of an impact as possible while enhancing the wellbeing of local communities, this sort of tourism typically has little regard for the environment or climate change. Globally, the growth of ecotourism has expanded by 10–15% yearly, and 20% of that tourism is made up of trips to developing nations, with a 6% annual growth in travel to these nations. The animals and distinctive landscapes of Kenya have stimulated the expansion of ecotourism, and a large portion of the country’s economy is now predominantly supported by foreign tourism-related income, having a variety of both beneficial and negative effects on its culture, ecosystems, and locals’ way of life.

Ecotourism is a desirable substitute for the mass exodus of tourists and provides visitors with a closer encounter with regional nature and culture. Eco tourists enjoy a more “real” experience and are better able to appreciate the natural resources, landscapes, and wildlife of the planet when they travel outside of resort walls. Businesses like hotels and lodges have been motivated by ecotourism to become more ecologically conscious in terms of recycling and offering eco-friendly products. In addition to significantly boosting the economies of host nations with foreign exchange, tourism creates new job opportunities for locals such as tour guiding, craft production and sales, food services, and cultural performances, which in turn helps decrease the need for people to engage in unsustainably harmful practises like poaching or excessive hunting and fishing.

Tourism in Kenya
Eco Tourism

A greater level of living is also provided for the local population at the same time that new medical facilities, cleaner water supplies, new roads, and power are built to serve the tourists. By creating a financial incentive to preserve native land and wildlife through reservations and game parks, which contribute in the protection of threatened species, ecotourism helps to sustain the environmental integrity and biodiversity of a nation. Additionally, funds for conservation efforts are frequently provided through park admission fees, safari excursions, camp fees, and local taxes. Ecotourism might provide a longer-term answer to poverty than the short-term help provided by monetary donations or handouts.

The expansion of tourism and the ensuing increase in economic opportunity in Kenya also bring with them the slow deterioration of the country’s environment and the very ecosystems that are intended to be conserved as the key draws for travellers. The creation of wildlife preserves and reserves as a way to protect environmental biodiversity is, in and of itself, a bit of a contradiction because it necessitates the commercial eradication of that area’s ability to exist in the first place. The construction of wildlife areas and the many tourist accommodations—such as lodges, campgrounds, roads for safari excursions, outhouses, firewood, etc. It has a significant negative influence on the environment. This deforestation leads to not only the extinction of the local flora but also a severe loss of animal habitat, which has a number of negative effects.

Animals that have lost their original environment are compelled to live in nearby places, which leads to overcrowding and competition between species that had not previously interacted. Competition for food, shelter, and water becomes fierce during times of stress brought on by drought or other natural changes, with potentially disastrous results for an entire population.

Many of the detrimental effects of ecotourism on Kenya’s environment can be attributed to inadequate training of tour guides as well as a lack of ethics and norms for visitors. Up to 200 guide cars may shuttle up to 700 people in and out of the Maasai Mara National Park in a single day. In addition to the immediate harm that trucks do to the soil, which results in erosion, compaction, and mud pits, thrilling occurrences like the sighting of a leopard in the middle of the African jungle could result in significant back-ups and traffic jams. Although it is technically against the park’s guidelines, tour guides frequently veer off the approved dirt routes and onto the undergrowth in order to give their tourist customers a better view of the wildlife. Not only does this stress the animal that is being seen and probably photographed by hundreds of tourists, but it also damages the trampled plants, possibly resulting in a shortage of food for a particular animal species that may depend on them for food.

Wild animal encounters with people in their natural habitat can result in a range of unanticipated and unintentional consequences. Most animals can sense the presence of people, and while it may not always be obvious, it can alter their physiology and behaviour. Most wild animals experience such novel stimuli as the sound of footsteps, an approaching car, or the sight of a person that it can cause significant changes in their behaviour, frequently causing them to disrupt feeding or breeding rituals in order to either hide or flee, sometimes even leaving their young behind. In some instances, such as when passing aircraft, such as helicopters or hot air balloons carrying tourists on aerial tours, the intrusion is so frightful that it scatters the animals below in large numbers, disturbs feeding parties, and occasionally even results in an animal being hurt or killed as it tries to flee.

The delicate signals used by snakes or some nocturnal creatures to discover prey or navigate can be seriously disrupted by less obvious noises produced by people and automobiles, even those that are undetectable to the human ear, leaving them perplexed or lost. The volume of international travel into and out of remote towns and reservations places that ordinarily aren’t exposed to specific bacteria is another issue that can occasionally result in the spread of alien diseases among both human and animal populations. The majority of the negative effects that tourism has on animals are short-term changes in behaviour, but with frequent exposure to human-induced stimuli, they may become desensitised and acclimated to the presence of tourists and lose some of their natural behaviour, which is possible in the long run.


There are no extremes of summer or winter in Kenya’s climate, and there are just two rainy seasons, from March to May and September to October. The majority of the country is at a relatively high altitude, which contributes to the pleasant, low-humidity climate. Although it is warmer and more humid along the seaside, temperatures rarely get over mid-30 °C. Due of this, areas along the coast or Lake Victoria, like Kisumu City, which is hot and humid, are more likely to have ceiling fans and air conditioning.

Wildlife viewing

Wildlife viewing, which includes large cat species like lions, leopards, and cheetahs as well as elephants, rhinos, and giraffes, may be observed in their natural habitats during a wildlife safari. Visitors may see the “Big Five” (lion, elephant, rhino, leopard, and buffalo) as well as the “Big Nine” (cheetah, giraffe, hippo, and zebra) while on safari

Tourism in Kenya
Wildlife Viewing


Attractions, national reserves and national parks include:

  • Ruma National Park
  • Arabuko Sokoke Forest Reserve
  • Chyulu Hills National Park
  • Kakamega Forest National Reserve
  • Kisumu Impala Sanctuary
  • Kora National Park
  • Malindi Marine National Park
  • Marsabit National Park
  • Mombasa Marine National Park and Reserve
  • Mount Elgon National Park
  • Mount Longonot National Park
  • Ol Donyo Sabuk National Park
  • Saiwa Swamp National Park
  • Sibiloi National Park
  • Watamu Marine National Reserve
  • Kisite Mpunguti Marine Park
  • Malka Mari National Park
  • Meru National Park
  • Mwea National Reserve
  • Shimba Hills National Reserve
  • Maasai Mara National Reserve
  • Amboseli National Park
  • Tsavo East National Park
  • Tsavo West National Park
  • Samburu National Reserve, and Shaba National Reserves
  • Lake Nakuru National Park
  • Lamu Island
  • Lake Naivasha
  • Nairobi National Park and The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust
  • Mount Kenya National Park
  • Hell’s Gate National Park
  • Ol Pejeta Conservancy

Kenyan tourism offers both short-term and long-term adventure experiences, such as homestays, hot-air balloon safaris, golf vacations, and trips focused on a particular specialty.

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