Kenya’s revenue from tourism drops by $1bn in 4 years

Kenya’s revenue from its tourism sector dropped 2.87 percent last year to Sh84.6 billion ($837.21 million), as al Shabaab militants from neighbouring Somalia launched attacks in Kenyan in retaliation for Kenya’s military intervention in the war-torn country.

Visitor numbers and earnings have taken a hit in the past four years. Tourist arrivals dropped to 1.18 million last year from fell from 1.8 million in 2011. The country’s earnings also dropped to Sh84.6 billion last year from Sh98.9 billion ($997 million) in 2011. Tourism minister Najib Balala had said he expects the industry to recover by 2018. However, internal violence resulting from protests against the country’s electoral body may slow down recovery.

“A lot of people I meet are saying Kenya is maturing but when they see the incidents of the last weeks, they say we are going backwards,” Reuters quoted Balala to have said on Monday.

“My concern is that, the efforts and the road map is working very well, I don’t want the political noise to interrupt that programme,” he said.

Tourism is Kenya’s most important industry, after agriculture. According to the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), the industry is responsible for 14 percent of GDP and 12 percent of total employment.

To ensure the quick recovery of the tourism industry, the Kenyan government has offered incentives to charter operators who take tourists to the Kenyan coast where majority of tourists visit. Entry fees for tourists have also been reduced while hotel operators have been advised to modernise their facilities.