In the year 2019, Kenya’s tourism sector sparked significant growth in the country’s Gross Domestic Product(GDP) due to an increase in the number of visitors to the country. The economy of the Eastern African country is largely dependent on tourism for foreign earnings than it is on its rainfed agriculture which is vulnerable to climate changes.
The country recorded 2.05 million tourist visits according to a statement by its Tourism Minister, Najib Balala. This culminated in a rise in its foreign earnings from the tourism sector by 3.9 percent last year to 163.56 billion shillings ($1.61 billion), according to a report by Reuters.
Tourism is Kenya’s top earner. The country has several tourist attractions, among which are Maasai Mara National Reserve, Amboseli National Reserve, Tsavo National Park, Samburu, Buffalo Springs, and Shaba National Reserves, Lake Nakuru National Park, Lamu Island, Lake Naivasha, Nairobi National Museum, Karen Blixen Museum among many others.
Even with the recorded growth in 2019, the sector still experienced a slight downtown during the same period due to terror attacks by al-Shabaab on a hotel and office complex in Nairobi which killed 21 people including Americans. The militia had claimed that the attack was a retaliation to the recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel by the United States of America (USA).
Since the beginning of the year 2020, the country has experienced 3 terror attacks by al-Shabab. The first was a bus attack that happened along its Somali borders which left 4 passengers dead on Thursday, January 2nd. A second terror attack came on Sunday the 5th, when the U.S. military command for Africa, AFRICOM, confirmed an attack by Al-Shabab on its base, killing 7 people. The most recent occurred in a primary school in Garissa county, near the Somali border, on Tuesday the 7th. 3 school children plus a teacher were killed.
The recent attacks by al-Shabab would further create uncertainties for Kenyan tourism and limit other investment opportunities. If the trend continues, the government may find itself relying on the climate threatened and fragile agricultural sector, financial and other services sectors for earnings.
According to a World Bank report, Kenya has the potential to be one of Africa’s success stories from its growing youthful population, a dynamic private sector, highly skilled workforce, improved infrastructure, new constitution, and its pivotal role in East Africa.