Tourism is the world’s largest industry. According to World Tourism Organization (WTO), tourism accounts for more than 10% of the world total employment, 11% of the Global Domestic Product (GDP) and the total tourist trips are predicted to increase to 1.6 billion by 2020. In Kenya tourism is an important sector of the economy, in 2006 tourism was the leading foreign exchange earners contributing Ksh 56.2 billion while attracting 1.8 million tourists (Source :Kenya Tourism Board). Tourism industry is a very broad multifaceted sector attracting many stakeholders and because of that it is faced with innumerable challenges in Kenya. CRITICAL CHALLENGES
Narrow Tourism Product
Kenya offers a narrow tourism product in natural attractions, which include the wildlife in its natural habitat and idyllic beaches, as known as 3S (sun, sea and sand) tourism. Compared to other emerging and competing destinations in Africa such as South Africa, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Botswana, they are also offering the same products, plus others in a better packaged manner. There is therefore need to diversify her tourism product. Tourism product diversification should highlight other unique attraction like culture of people beside Maasai, historical sites like Fort Jesus and others and prehistoric sites in Kenya being cradle of mankind, conference facilities, etc. One area where Kenya can do well is in the emerging ecotourism sector. Insecurity
Another major challenge afflicting tourism is the insecurity; especially that involving politically motivated tribal crashes. Over the years since 1992, the political violence has adopted a predictable cycle in each election year. The worst was 2007/2008, due to disputed presidential elections; the impacts are still being felt one year later. Related to this, is terrorism. For some political reasons, Kenya has been a soft target for Osama Bin Laden global network of terrorism. Since 1998 bomb blast and the ensuing travel advisories, the industry has never fully recovered. Low domestic tourism levels
Kenya has a poorly developed domestic tourism sector and relies on tourists from foreign countries. Tourism industry is based on the ability to have disposable income, to travel away to destinations and spend, which lacks in majority of Kenyans. Domestic tourism can become a significant form of tourism in Kenya where it can cushion off the tourism industry during low periods of international tourist arrivals. With the aggressive marketing promotion of the domestic sector, local tourism business can increase significantly as Kenyans disposable income gradually increases. The Ministry of Tourism through the department of domestic tourism is trying to encourage Kenyans of all walks of life to become active participants in domestic tourism as a way of boosting the overall sector. Poor Infrastructure
A major challenge of tourism in Kenya is the condition of her infrastructure. The condition of her roads, railway and air transport may not compete in the international scale. The road transport is in wanting condition due to poor construction and maintenance; the roads leading to major attraction like Maasai Mara national reserve are sometimes impassable during the rainy season. The railway network is in pathetic conditions, constructed early in the beginning of last century by British, the Kenya Railway Corporation failed to manage and exploit its tourism potential; recently it was leased to a consortium, the Rift Valley Railways to try to reinvigorate an otherwise dead system, with mixed results. The air transport, like in most developing world is poorly developed and its potential for tourism has not been achieved. There is need to upgrade our airport and airstrips, stricter control of air operation and licensing to avert disasters which have become quite common. Tourism Seasonality
The challenge of...