Moses Ikiara Caroline Okech
Productive Sector Division Kenya Institute for Public Policy Research and Analysis
KIPPRA Discussion Paper No. 19 November 2002
Impact of tourism on environment in Kenya: status and policy
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The Kenya Institute for Public Policy Research and Analysis (KIPPRA) is an autonomous institute whose primary mission is to conduct public policy research, leading to policy advice. KIPPRA’s mission is to produce consistently high-quality analysis of key issues of public policy and to contribute to the achievement of national long-term development objectives by positively influencing the decision-making process. These goals are met through effective dissemination of recommendations resulting from analysis and by training policy analysts in the public sector. KIPPRA therefore produces a body of well-researched and documented information on public policy, and in the process assists in formulating long-term strategic perspectives. KIPPRA serves as a centralized source from which the government and the private sector may obtain information and advice on public policy issues. Published 2002 © Kenya Institute for Public Policy Research and Analysis Bishops Garden Towers, Bishops Road PO Box 56445, Nairobi, Kenya tel: +254 2 2719933/4; fax: +254 2 2719951 email: email@example.com website: http://www.kippra.org ISBN 9966 949 37 2
The Discussion Paper Series disseminates results and reflections from ongoing research activities of the institute’s programmes. The papers are internally refereed and are disseminated to inform and invoke debate on policy issues. Opinions expressed in the papers are entirely those of the author or authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Institute. KIPPRA acknowledges generous support by the European Union (EU), the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Department for International Development of the United Kingdom (DfID) and the Government of Kenya (GoK).
Tourism is a leading economic activity in Kenya, being the third largest foreign exchange earner after tea and horticulture. Since the 1990s, particularly the second half of the decade, Kenya’s tourism industry has faced enormous challenges, including declines in per capita spending, average length of stay, hotel occupancy rates, hotel room rates and service quality. Environmental degradation and deterioration in the quality of tourism products due to mass tourism are some of the factors that have contributed to this decline. Despite the country’s policy advocating spatial distribution of tourists in the country, tourism marketing has continued to focus on the traditional attractions, thereby perpetuating concentration. This paper looks at how tourism has affected the environment in Kenya and what is being done about it. Using existing literature and results of discussions with 17 industry players, the study found evidence, though most of it qualitative, of environmental impacts. The impacts are most severe in crowded and overdeveloped tourist attractions. At the coast, which accounts for close to 60% of the country’s total bed-nights, beaches have been seriously degraded and polluted, coral reefs and mangrove forests substantially destroyed and marine species adversely affected. Too many hotels and other tourist facilities have been developed without regard to carrying capacity limits. In game parks, which are the prime motivation for 70–80% of all tourists visiting the country, vegetation has been degraded, wildlife behaviour disrupted, pollution increased, and resources have generally been overutilized. Sections of the Kenyan tourism industry have implemented some of the mitigation recommendations made at the global level, such as using technology to minimize resource use and to treat wastes, recycling wastewater and other...