Monday, October 1, 2012

Kenya's fight for tourism

Kenya has long been known for its incredible wildlife and beautiful scenery. From the lush forest near Mount Kenya, to the wide open plains of the Maasai Mara and to the stunning beach resorts scattered along the coastline, Kenya is a place of diverse cultures and scenes. Known as the financial capital of Africa, Nairobi, Kenya’s magnificent capital city has regularly been a melting pot of locals and expats, particularly with the United Nations being located in the North of the city. Nairobi has also been a stopover for many tourists before heading out to one of the country’s 59 national parks and reserves, each with its own unique character.

Elephants in Kenya's legendary
Maasai Mara
A grenade attack on a Sunday school in Nairobi city centre, however, is just one of a string of attacks that have taken place. Tourism though is still seeing excellent numbers despite this and a number of other problems that the country has faced. Fee’s to the national parks have increased over the years and as such, many tourists are looking at safaris in neighbouring Tanzania which can also be combined with a beach stay. What has ultimately affected Kenya’s tourism industry, however, are the ongoing disputes, both between local villages as well as the constant struggle with Somalian militants.

In 2011, British tourist Judith Tebut was kidknapped from her beachfront room in the secluded resort of Kiwayu. Her husband, was sadly shot dead in the room after trying to raise the alarm. Months later, she was released unharmed, however, this kidnapping was the first in a string of events that have deterred visitors to Kenya. Since announcing that Kenya would fight these pirates, a spate of attacks both on the coast and in Nairobi have put a further dampener on tourism in what remains a stunning country.

Security has been stepped up throughout the country, from the beach resorts to the city centre hotels. Much further down the coast towards Mombasa, hotels have worked together to provide more safety and security for guests and the coastal resorts of Watamu and Diani Beach are thriving. Speaking with one of the hotels, the hotels are still as busy as ever and it’s the regulars that have been before and who love Kenya, that come time and time again. Tourism in Kenya is such an important industry and these regular guests know that their safety is of upmost priority.

Stunning beaches along Kenya's coastline

Tourists still continue to fly to Kenya for the Maasai Mara where safari lodges are welcoming guests in large numbers as they look for something more than just a beach holiday. Many are looking for a bit of adventure that they can ultimately combine with a beach stay on the Kenyan coast. Mountain bike safaris, white water rafting and hot air ballooning are just a few of the activities that visitors to Kenya can enjoy.

Despite the problems that the country has faced, most of which are focused on locals, the tourism industry in Kenya still thrives. And why wouldn’t it? Incredible beaches, amazing wildlife experiences and with so much to do, it’s easy to see why Kenya has so many repeat visitors.