Despite abduction scandals and the euro zone crisis, Kenya has been flourishing in tourism, with record results in 2011. The outlook for 2012 involves caution.
Kenya’s best performance in tourism came in 2011, whereby earnings rose by 32.8% and international arrivals were up by 15.4% to 1.26 million. This is quite an achievement considering that most countries around the globe were and are struggling for revenue from tourism.
The UK provides the greatest source of income for Kenya with the US in close second place with the Italians in possession of the bronze medal. In terms of African arrivals, Uganda claims number one spot, though it is necessary to remember that the afore-mentioned figures are taken from airports and fail to count border crossing. This leaves the figures about African arrivals a little unreliable.
However, the Kenyan tourism minister has warned that 2012 may not be so rosy. Firstly, the crisis in Europe is only beginning to see a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel and, secondly, tourists now have good reason to feel under threat on Kenyan soil.
Last November, tourists were abducted by Somali insurgents in Lamu, an event, which has raised fears amongst incoming tourists, who no longer consider Kenya to be as safe as they thought.
It is a pity for the Kenyan tourist board, which had plans to invest further in marketing campaigns aimed at the Chinese, Korean, Middle Eastern and other African markets. Nobody says that Kenya is incapable of overcoming this hurdle but it has forced the Kenyans into exercising some caution and not getting carried away with the success of 2011.