Tourism in Kenya

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Tourism in Kenya is the second largest source of foreign exchange revenue following agriculture.[1] The Kenya Tourism Board is responsible for maintaining information pertaining to tourism in Kenya.[2][3]

The main tourist attractions are photo safaris through the 19 national parks and game reserves. Other attractions include the mosques at Mombasa; the renowned scenery of the Great Rift Valley; the coffee plantations at Thika; a view of Mt. Kilimanjaro across the border into Tanzania;[4] and the beaches along the Indian Ocean.


Beach tourism, eco-tourism, cultural tourism, and sports tourism are all part of the tourism sector in Kenya.[5] During the 1990s, the number of tourists travelling to Kenya decreased, partly due to the well-publicised murders of several tourists.[6] However, tourism in Kenya is one of the leading sources of foreign exchange along with coffee.[5]

Following the controversial 2007 presidential election and the 2007-2008 Kenyan crisis that followed, tourism revenues plummeted 54 percent from 2007 in the first quarter of 2008.[7] It fell to 8.08 billion shillings (US$130.5 million) from 17.5 billion shillings in January–March 2007[7] and a total of 130,585 tourists arrived in Kenya compared to over 273,000 that year.[8] Tourist income from China dropped 10.7%, compared with over 50% from traditional revenue earners the United States and Europe.[7] Domestic tourism improved by 45%, earning the tourist sector 3.65 billion shillings out of the 8.08 billion in the period being reviewed.[7][8]

Conference tourism was badly hit during the first quarter, dropping by 87.4% compared to the growth that occurred in 2007.[8] Conference attendance declined also with 974 people arriving in Kenya during that period while many conferences were cancelled.[8] 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.[8]

Kenya won the Best Leisure Destination award at the World Travel Fair in Shanghai, China, in April 2008.[9] The 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."[9]

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.[10] International tourist arrivals for 2013 were 1.49 million.[11]

Visitor attractions[edit]

A large proportion of Kenya's tourism centres on safaris and tours of its great National Parks and Game Reserves. While most tourists do visit for safari there are also great 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. In addition, There are also a lot of beaches to visit in Kenya, where you can experience water boarding, surfing, wind surfing and many more fun activities that are good for Kenya's economy.

National parks[edit]

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 an extremely common tourist attraction in Kenya.

Amboseli National Park[edit]

Amboseli National Park, formerly Maasai Amboseli Game Reserve is in Kajiado District, Rift Valley Province in 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 Kenya—Tanzania 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 annum) 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 vegegation.

Kora National Park[edit]

Main article: Kora National Park

Kora National Park is located in Coast Province, 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.[12]

Lake Nakuru National Park[edit]

Main article: Lake Nakuru

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).[13][14] 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.

Mount Kenya National Park[edit]

Mount Kenya National Park (0°07′S 37°20′E / 0.117°S 37.333°E / -0.117; 37.333), 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.[15] In April 1978 the area was designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.[16] The national park and the forest reserve, combined, became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997.[17]

Nairobi National Park[edit]

Main article: Nairobi National Park

Nairobi National Park is a national park in Kenya. It 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.[18] Only a fence separates the park's animals from the city.[19] Migrating herbivores concentrate in the park during the dry season. It is one of Kenya's most successful rhinoceros sanctuaries. The park's proximity to Nairobi causes conflicts between the park's animals and local people and threatens animals' migration routes.


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. [4] In 2013, the Ugandan Tourism Board recognized Kenya's tourism industry as generating an amount of $66 million annually from Ugandan tourists.[20]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ de Blij, Harm. The World Today: Concepts and Regions in Geography 4th edition. Wiley Publishing: Hoboken, NJ
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ a b Nations Encyclopedia
  5. ^ a b Jolliffe 2000, p. 146.
  6. ^ Nagle 1999, p. 115.
  7. ^ a b c d "Post-poll violence halves Kenya Q1 tourism revenues". Reuters. 2 May 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-04. 
  8. ^ a b c d e Maina, Wangui (5 May 2008). "Kenya: Domestic Tourists Help to Cushion Travel Sector". Business Daily. Retrieved 2008-05-05. 
  9. ^ a b Gachenge, Beatrice (21 April 2008). "Kenya: Country Scoops Top Tourism Award". Business Daily. Retrieved 2008-05-04. 
  10. ^ [1] by Natalie Paris 29 July 2014 Telegraph
  11. ^ Terrorism takes its toll on Kenya’s traveller numbers December 2, 2014 by William Wallis Financial Times
  12. ^ Hodd, Mike (9 January 2002). Footprint East Africa. Footprint Travel Guides. ISBN 1-900949-65-2. 
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^ Kenya Wildlife Service. "Mount Kenya National Park". Retrieved 2009-12-30. 
  16. ^ United Nations Environment Programme (1998). "Protected Areas and World Heritage". Retrieved 2008-02-23. [dead link]
  17. ^ United Nations (2008). "Mount Kenya National Park/Natural Forest". Archived from the original on 30 December 2006. Retrieved 2008-02-23. 
  18. ^ Riley 2005, p. 90.
  19. ^ Prins 2000, p. 143.
  20. ^

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