Kenya has always been synonymous with safaris, nature reserves and big game. Tourists travel to Kenya to get close to wildlife in their natural habitat, and for the chance to visit waterholes and live-in bush camps.
Kenya is a changing country though, and a lot of this is due to the influx of foreign investment as well as the money that tourism brings. Nairobi is a city made of high-rise buildings, modern roads, railway systems and even commercial malls – quite different from the rural Kenya where entire communities have been displaced by national parks and reserves designed to protect the tourism draw – the animals.
Despite much growth in technology and society, much of Kenya is still considered a third-world country. This designation is changing – according to the World Bank, Kenya now is considered a lower middle-income country because the gross national income has become higher.
In addition to this, through development based on the newly discovered oil around Lake Turkana things are looking much better for the future.
Tourism in Kenya
What does tourism in Kenya look like now?
Mostly, the focus is on what makes the money – which is still the wildlife. Game drives and safaris, lodges, and camps, all in the spectacular scenery of Africa is what drives the influx of tourists, and that is something that is going to continue to grow and develop.
However, there is an interesting change occurring in Kenya, where tourists are becoming more interested in the human side of the country.
The rise in conservancies instead of reserves is part of this. You’ll find conservancies around the Masai Mara game reserve, where landowners can manage their own parcels of land in agreement with other landowners, to ensure the protection of the wildlife while still allowing small communities to farm, graze their livestock, and live in the area.
Lodges and attractions in the conservancies allow tourists to get close to the wildlife, but also have a unique chance to visit the traditional villages and learn about diverse ways of life, meeting rural communities without being in a museum.
This can also be seen in Nairobi, where alongside the glittering high rises and mobile phones, slum living is still rife – and there are paid tours that allow travellers to come and visit the slums to see the reality of what a third-world country looks like behind the technology.
Consistency in Attracting Tourists
The importance of tourism to Kenya is undeniable – it is just as valuable as agriculture to the economy of the nation, and service sectors are developing new ways to consistently bring in those tourist dollars.
Still touted as the world’s leading safari destination, with the influx of Chinese investment thanks to the oil discovery there are other ways for the tourism industry to keep people coming back. Nairobi’s growth into a city that would not look out of place in a first-world country is just one facet of this.
Alongside the city growth is the development of sustainable trophy hunting. Since being banned back in the 1970’s, management of endangered wildlife became harder, with droughts and poachers being responsible for declining numbers.
The reintroduction of hunting – with a hefty price tag – allows for extra cashflow, while keeping animal populations at a sensible level and removing the encouragement of poaching and the associated criminal behaviour.
Luckily, the animals in Kenya are around all year, which means that they are a consistent draw for tourists, but there can always be more ways to encourage visitors.
New Approaches to Tourism
Heading to Kenya to see the wildlife usually means those lions, leopard, elephants, rhinos, and buffalo that are so rarely seen outside of a zoo.
However, there is a wealth of sea life that exist in the waters off the Kenyan coast – it is on the humpback whale migration path, and often has bottlenose dolphins to see too.
There are already several marine reserves in Kenyan waters, including the Malindi Watamu National Marine Park and Reserve and the Kisite Mpunguti National Marine Park and Reserve. Both were originally fishing villages until the whale spotters turned them into destinations, and this makes them the perfect place for chartering boats and yachts. Especially with technology advancements in recent years, services like Borrowaboat provide yacht chartering digitally which will make it easier and more convenient for tourists to hire a yacht.
Along the coastline of Kenya, snorkelling and diving are well-received tourist activities, alongside whale spotting. Yachts and superyachts are going to be increasingly popular as the oil pulls more money into Nairobi and the surrounding area, with multi-millions of Chinese investments encouraging economic growth.
The lakes and swamps around Kenya work for catamaran hire and charters, exploring areas of the wilderness that would be otherwise impossible to access.
With all of this in mind, developing a charter industry for both yachts and catamarans is something that will encourage more tourism to Kenya and the wider areas, which can only mean good things for the country.
Using digital services such as Borrow a boat, tourists and residents can charter a boat with or without a captain, allowing them to explore the coastline, go scuba diving, snorkelling and swimming, catch sight of bottlenose dolphins and humpback whales – or just live the superyacht lifestyle.
Boat owners can charter their craft with peace of mind knowing that all the details are taken care of by borrowaboat, while customers can get out into the ocean or on a lake either with or without a competent captain to take the wheel. Everything from a full holiday to a few hours on the water, offering charters to visitors is another way to encourage investment into Kenya from tourists.