Kenya: Investigating the opportunities

Table of contests:

1. Introduction

1.1 Aim of the website

2. Travel flows

2.1 International tourism

2.2 Domestic tourism

3. Transportation

3.1 Getting there

3.2 Getting around

4. Why to go

4.1 Natural Parks

4.2 Cities and towns

5. Fight against poaching (Case study)

6. Evaluating Kenya as tourist destination

7. Recommendations

8. Conclusion

9. References

1. Introduction:

Kenya is the most developed country in East Africa and it became one of the continent most popular tourist destinations due to its wide range of tourism resources. (Boniface, 2012) Game reserves and national parks which cover about 8% of Kenya with the big five, pristine beaches, rich culture and vibrant cities make great mix of attractions and activities for all kinds of travellers.

Tourism industry has faced many problems in past few years due to political instability, threat of terrorism and poaching but the government of Kenya has taken these problems seriously and tourism industry is slowly recovering.

In the world of mobilities where people, capital, information and ideas move constantly (Urry, 2006) Kenya is place where traveller can forget the hurry. Modern travellers appreciate more experiences than the quality of service and Kenya is the right country for experiences. Travellers are consuming experiences and travel agencies are trying to provide those to them. We have moved from industrial and service economy to new experience economy (Pine, Gilmore. 1998)

This webpage is created to raise awareness of Kenya’s wonderful opportunities for tourism and events industry. Savannahs, deserts, mountains, beaches, coral reefs and the colourful culture give more opportunities for businesses than many other countries in the world.

1.1 Aim of the website:

• To investigate the opportunities of tourism and event industry of Kenya.

• To raise awareness about Kenya as tourist destination.

2. Travel flows:

2.1. International tourism

Figure 1: International arrivals and tourism receipts (UNWTO, 2016)
Figure 2: Departures by country of origin and purpose of visit (KNBS, 2016)
Figure 3: Total contribution of travel & tourism to GDP (WTTC, 2016)
Figure 4: Contribution to GDP by purpose of visit. (WTTC, 2016)
Figure 5: Number of visitors by purpose of visit and average length of stay. (KNBS 2016)

The figure 1 highlights that the total amount of international tourist arrivals and tourist receipts has been declining in the past years dramatically.

Figure 2 shows us that majority of tourist, business and transit arrivals come from Europe. While amount of visitors from Europe has been declining fast, the amount of visitors coming from other continents has been rising. Specially the amount of Asians and Africans tourists has been growing fast.

Figure 3 is showing us the direct, indirect and induced effects of tourism to the GDP. Tourism has been contributing around 10% of the whole economy’s GDP and it is not estimated to grow much.

Figure 4 highlights the contribution to GPD of business and leisure travellers.

While amount of holiday visitors from Europe has dropped by 40% due to political instability and threat of terrorism, the amount of holiday visitors from other continents has been rising. Even the raise of visitors from other continents hasn’t saved Kenya’s tourism industry from the drop of 25% of visitors in last few years. (Telegraph, 2015)

As we can see from figure 2, the main tourist generating countries are United Kingdom, United States and Germany. Main generating continents are still Europe and Africa.

2.2. Domestic tourism

Figure 6: Hotel bed occupancy by country of residence. (KNBS 2016)
Figure 7: Tourism & Travel industry’s contribution to GDP by country of residence (WTTC 2016)

Figure 6 shows us that over 53% hotel nights spend in Kenya during 2015 came from residents of Kenya.

Figure 7 highlights that 59% of industry’s contribution to GDP comes from domestic visitors.

The importance of domestic tourism has been growing in last few years due to drop of international arrivals. The government of Kenya has recognised the importance of domestic tourism and it has been launching numerous campaigns to promote domestic travel. The plan is to entourage Kenyan tourists to travel inside the country and the tourism ministry has asked hotels to offer affordable packages to the local market. According to the Kenyan Tourism Board the tourism industry is able to fully recover in two years. (Ngugi, 2016)

3. Transportation:

3.1. Getting there:

The two main international airports in Kenya, Jomo Kenyatta in Nairobi and Moi in Mombasa are connecting Kenya to destinations around the globe. Other airports such as Eldoret, Kisumu and Wilson are offering some international routes but mostly domestic and cargo flights. (KAA)

Jomo Kenyatta international airport is the busiest airport in East Africa while working as one of the main gateways to East and Central Africa. Over 40 passenger airlines and 25 cargo airlines are operating in the airport. (KAA)

Moi international airport is handling over 18 airlines flying directly from Europe and it offers connections to over 20 cities in the region. (KAA)

3.2 Getting around:

Public transportation

Cheapest way to travel around Kenya is using Matatus (shared taxis) or bus. The fares are typically around Ksh3-5/km (£0,024-0,039/km). The fares are changing depending on the price of fuel. The public transportation has bad safety record. (Rough Guides 2016)

Renting Car

It is also possible to rent car with or without the driver. Renting four-wheel drive vehicle is necessary when travelling outside of the cities due to poor roads. While travelling to national parks and remote areas hiring a driver is highly advised. (Rough Guides 2016)

Domestic flights and chartering a plane

Domestic flights connect main cities and towns to the national parks. Chartering a plane is possible for bigger groups. (Rough Guides 2016)

4. Why to go:

Kenya is one of Africa’s most popular tourist destinations because of the wide range of natural and cultural resources (Boniface 2012). There are six Unesco World Heritage sites in Kenya. (WHC, 2016)

Figure 1: Number of visitors to national parks and reserves, 2011-2015 (KNBS 2016)

4.1 National Parks:


Masai-Mara, one of Africa’s greatest game reserves forms together with Serengenti National Park in Tanzania continents most diverse eco-systems. The area of 1.510 square kilometre hosts over 95 species of mammals and over 570 species of birds and the maasai-mara tribe. Best time to visit is during the wildebeest migration between July and October but although it’s year around destination. ( 2016)


One of Kenya’s most popular parks near Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest peak. The area of 390.26 square kilometres) host over 600 species of birds and wide range of mammals. All year around destination. (

Tsavo East and West

The national park of Tsavo is located between Nairobi and Mombasa. The park is in two parts, east and west.

Tsavo East is more popular among tourists because spotting wildlife is easier there since it is dryer and flatter. The area of 13,747 square kilometres ( is home of the famous red elephants, many other mammals and over 500 species of birds. Because of heavy poaching, rhinos are rare in the park. Northern part of the park is largely closed due to ongoing against poachers and threat of banditry. (Lonely Planet 2016)

Tsavo West is one of the best known national parks in the world. The area of 9065 square kilometres has incredible landscape and good mix of predators and other mammals and 600 species of birds. (Lonely Planet 2016)

4.2 Cities and towns:


The vibrant and modern capital of Kenya is also safari capital of the world. Established by British in 1899, Nairobi was only a small settlement until it was burned due to plague epidemic and the rebuild Nairobi became the capital of newly formed British East Africa in 1907. It is great base for exploring Kenya by day trips to Nairobi national park, Rift valley and Mount Kenya or spending time in city’s numerous museums and vibrant nightlife. (Rough Guides 2016)


Second largest city in Kenya and one of the East Africa’s oldest settlements. There is evidence that there has been some kind of settlement for over 2000 years. Mombasa itself doesn’t have that many visitor attractions but the city’s relaxed and orient atmosphere makes it one of the main attractions in Kenya. Most famous sight of Mombasa, Fort Jesus was build by the Portuguese in 1593. Ethnically most residents are Swahili’s but Hindu and Sikh minorities are also living there. Mombasa is great base for exploring the coast and marine parks around.


Third biggest town in Kenya located at the shore of Lake Viktoria. Most travellers come here for the relaxed atmosphere and to experience the nature and culture in Kisumu and the small villages and islands around. The port used to be one of Kenya’s busiest but nowadays it is mostly serving passengers and some commercial shipping to Uganda and Tanzania. (Rough Guides 2016)


Lamu cultural festival

Annual week long festival to celebrate the culture of Lamu island. Many competitions such as dhow sailing and donkey race are held. (Magical Kenya, 2016)

Maralal Camel Derby

Annual event held near Maralal town. Kenya’s best known event attracting competitors all around the world. (Magical Kenya, 2016)

Lake Turkana Festival

Annual festival held to celebrate the rich cultures of the tribes who live around Lake Turkana. (Magical Kenya, 2016)

5. Fight against poaching (Case Study):

Africa is witnessing the re-emergence of widespread poaching and trafficking of wildlife products, especially ivory and rhino horn and Kenya is no exception. Survival of Kenya’s estimated 33,000 elephants and 1,010 rhinos is once again threatened when the price of ivory and rhino horns have been rising. Most of the ivory and rhino horns go to Asia where ivory is used as status symbol and horns as traditional medicine. (UNChronicle, 2014)

In 1989 Kenyan Wildlife Service (KWS) was established to protect and manage Kenya’s wildlife. Same year Kenya publicly destroyed its ivory stockpile raising international awareness around the poaching crisis and ivory trade was banned by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). (UNChronicle, 2014)

All this led to decline of poaching for few decades until Kenya got hit by new poaching surge in 2012 and 2013. More rhinos and elephants were killed during those two years than in past two decades. Kenya has taken the problem seriously and new wildlife law is changing the maximum penalty of life imprisonment for poachers. (Vaughan, 2016)

KWS and African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) has been working together to fight against poaching by collaborating with local law enforcement, border security and local communities. AWF has also trained dogs to detect contraband wildlife products. (UNChonicle, 2014)

Poachers have evolved too. Nowadays many poachers are coming from militant groups in Somalia and they are heavily armed and trained. Traditionally poaching has been done by snaring and poisoning animals but now poachers have started to use guns and they have spread into the national parks and reserves. (UNChonicle, 2014)

Wildlife crime is projected to increase and if serious actions against poaching won’t happen it will create huge threat to the local economy, tourism and regional biodiversity.

6. Evaluating Kenya as tourist destination:

Kenya’s diverse landscape, nature and culture gives the tourism industry wide range of different kinds of possibilities. The government of Kenya recognises the importance of protection and conservation of natural resources which are the key attractions for travellers coming to Kenya and they have launched numerous campaigns to show it. The aim of the campaigns is to make Kenya safer country for tourists and to protect the natural resources.

While being the most developed of East African countries and one of the most popular tourist destinations in Africa, Kenya is facing huge threats because of international terrorism, inter-tribal violence and political instability. The amount of international arrivals has dropped heavily in past few years because of the instability. Foreign travel advices recommends to avoid travelling into Garissa County, Eastleigh of Nairobi, Lamu County, areas around Tana river and areas closer than 60km from the border of Somalia. (, 2016)

Poaching creates another threat for Kenya. Many of the animals that tourists attending safaris are coming to see has been endangered because of poaching. Rhinos and elephants are important for maintaining the savannah and forest ecosystems so if they extinct the days of safari tourism will be over.

If the government of Kenya won’t take serious actions against the threats, tourism industry will be in deep trouble in the future.

7. Recommendations:

The high seasons of tourism are from December to January and from July to August. Those are dry-seasons when wildlife is searching for diminishing watercourses which provides better visibility of animals. During the rainy seasons the mountain parks are occasionally closed and roads will be in bad condition in general which makes travelling around harder. The situations in Kenya can change fast and international terrorism, political unrest and inter-tribal violence are always a threat.

8. Conclusion:

Kenya is country with many opportunities for travellers and tourism industry. It has lot to offer for all kinds of travellers and companies from the wonderful natural resources to the colourful and vibrant cultural resources. Travelling around the national parks and reserves of Kenya is safe. There is a threat of terrorist attacks and kidnappings in the big cities, coastal areas and areas next to the border of Somalia. The government has taken some actions to make Kenya safer country for tourists and to protect the natural resources which are key-drivers for tourism industry in Kenya.

Eetu Eklund (16607938) BA. (Hons) International tourism management

TOU1015M - Space, mobilities and the experience economy.

Created By
Eetu Eklund


Created with images by lorihowesm - "Maasai Mara Sunrise" • The Wandering Angel - "Masks" • kikatani - "elephant cub kenya" • luigig - "Mombasa" • Joao Maximo - "2009 6 133 Kenya Diani Beach Garrau" • - "Sarova Whitesands - Loungers" • John Spooner - "Mount Kenya" • MikeBird - "meerkat wild animal" • Jorge Lascar - "Nairobi skyline" • - "Mosque in Mombasa" • lucianf - "1479" • USFWS Headquarters - "African elephant infant" • tracyhammond - "white rhino rhino wild" • matanach - "rhino africa rhinoceros" • Sponchia - "elephant ivory animals" • Ai@ce - "200812_kenya-48" • afromusing - "Shela Lamu work week"

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