Global Slowdown, Security Scares Threaten Kenya Tourism

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Image by Steven Straiton

Kenya’s tourism industry is looking glum due to competitors attracting price-conscious tourists away.

‘Business is bad’

“Business is bad. There are not many tourists, I haven’t sold anything for two weeks,” said 27-year-old Kazungu, who runs boat excursions and sells souvenirs on Nyali beach.

The shorelines are full of locals, but there are very few foreigners.

“For the last three years it’s been very low,” said 38-year-old kitesurf instructor Tsuma Ndune.

Multiple factors

Different factors point to the drop in tourism in the African country. The 2007-2008 post-election violence brought about a 30% drop in tourism, which took three years to recover.

In 2012, however, the downward trend of business seemed to have been continuing, as there are security fears regarding the war in Somalia, kidnapping by Somali gunmen, qualms about possible renewed political violence, and the 2013 attack in the Westgate shopping center.

Prices at nearby destinations such as Zanzibar and the Serengeti also add to the equation.

Tourism accounted for 14% of the country’s gross domestic product in 2011.