Numbers of tourists visiting Kenya have dropped in recent months due to a series of incidents and the related travel advisories issued. Muriithi Ndegwa of the Kenya Tourism Board explains the measures that are in place to ensure Kenya is a safe destination
Kenya is a tourist destination that is hard to beat – luxurious hotels and lodges, pioneering safaris and simply stunning coastal resorts are an irresistible lure to the discerning traveller. The country is pleased to receive support from the international community during some difficult times, with two international conferences attracting around 3000 delegates from across the world held in Nairobi recently.
The 39th Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries-EU Ministerial Meeting brought together 1600 delegates, including 20 ministers, while the United Nations Environmental Assembly (UNEA) conference at the end of June hosted over 1200 participants including 112 ministers and the UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon.
Tourism is important to Kenya – it is one of the country’s key economic drivers. It is also one of our major foreign exchange earners and contributes close to 11 per cent of Kenya’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Tourism is one of the economic pillars of the country’s Vision 2030 and a major employer, with a multiplying effect in various sectors of the economy leading to growth. For this reason the government has increased its surveillance across the country, especially along its borders. Security has also been tightened at Nairobi hotels and coastal beach resorts.
The government is working closely with other countries to address the issue of global terrorism, which is not unique to Kenya. In his visit to Kenya, Ban Ki Moon said that the UN would support Kenya’s efforts against the problem by boosting the capacity of the country’s security agencies. Kenya Tourism Board Managing Director Muriithi Ndegwa urged people to continue to holiday in the country, “Tembea Kenya (visit Kenya). We would like to assure our valued customers, both domestic and international, there is no reason not to visit Kenya or continue with your travel plans,” he said.
Love Kenya with KTB’s social media campaign
Kenyans, international tourists, corporates, media and friends of tourism: tell the world why you love Kenya. The social media campaign #WhyILoveKenya was launched to reassure tourists of Kenya’s safety and that tourism activities are still ongoing. Thousands of fans from across the world have posted favourite pictures and quirky messages on social media from their travels across Kenya. “It is reassuring to note that despite the travel advisories, tourists have demonstrated their love of and confidence in Kenya and are continuing with their holidays in the country,” said Mr Ndegwa. He added that the Masai Mara is the place to be this August to witness the annual spectacle of the wildebeest migration, dubbed the new eighth wonder of the world.
With the country attracting more business and conference tourists, KTB encourages visitors to spend a few hours enjoying a safari in Nairobi National Park. With a little more time, a drive out to Naivasha or Nakuru makes a wonderful overnight stop and allows you to witness the beautiful scenery of the Great Rift Valley.
In addition to its stunning coastline and national reserves such as the Masai Mara, Kenya offers a wide range of attractions right across the country.
For something a little different, take a trip out to the northern part of Kenya. Samburu National Reserve boasts rich and unusual wildlife, including ‘the unique five’: reticulated giraffe, Grevy’s zebra, beisa oryx, gerenuk and Somali ostrich.