After two years of Covid-19, the recovery of global tourism seems to give wings to many African countries that intend to make this sector an important lever of their economy. Kenya, where safaris are one of the significant assets of the destination, has great ambitions but will have to overcome some pitfalls.
Egypt and Morocco are the first two African tourist destinations to unveil ambitious development plans to take advantage of the sector's recovery from the Covid-19 health crisis. Being one of the most popular tourist destinations in East Africa, Kenya also intends to make tourism an essential lever for its economic growth.
The country has announced its ambition to welcome 10 million tourists by 2027. To achieve this, Kenya relies on its tourist-attractive assets, including safaris to discover exceptional wildlife. Here, lucky visitors can observe the famous Big 5. These five symbolic mammals of Africa - lion, elephant, leopard, buffalo, and rhinoceros - are present in a handful of African countries and highlighted as part of photographic safaris.
In addition to safaris, the country has exceptional but underexploited assets at the seaside. The country’s north coast is rich in beaches with fine white sand that stretch as far as the eye can see, seaside resorts that surround marine parks, and offers several water activities.
Despite these undeniable assets, this goal of 10 million tourists may seem rather ambitious, knowing that the country recorded only 1.48 million visitors in 2022. Better yet, in 2019, the reference year of the sector, the country attracted only 2.05 million tourists.
To reach these 10 million tourists in 2027, Kenya would have to multiply the number of visitor arrivals during this short period. A volume that only three countries on the continent have managed to reach so far: Egypt, Morocco, and South Africa.
Attracting tourists also requires a strong air fleet covering many destinations. On the contrary, the Kenyan airline, Kenya Airways, is going through an acute financial crisis. With a fleet of 34 aircraft and 51 destinations served around the world, Kenya's national airline, which is battling to survive, will struggle to help achieve this goal.
Finally, as tourism is a strategic sector for many countries on the continent, competition will be severe. It will be difficult for Kenya to quickly attract such a large number of tourists during this period because, in the safari niche, the country faces competition from neighboring Tanzania and other southern African countries, including South Africa, Botswana, and Zimbabwe.