Internationalization of Tourism in Kenya

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INTERNATIONALIZATION OF THE TOURISM SECTOR IN KENYA
INTRODUCTION
Tourism in Kenya dates back to pre-independence days and history has recorded that as early as the 1930's, overseas visitors and explorers had started coming to Kenya mainly for big-game hunting expeditions while others came in search of solitude and adventure. These expeditions were locally referred to as "Safari" thus lending the travel world literature with a new vocabulary. Among the early visitors were statesmen, royalties and celebrities such as Theodore Roosevelt, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, and Ernest Hemingway respectively. At that time, there was in existence a fairly developed but basic tourism infrastructure. The available accommodation was spartan but sufficient for both the visitors as well as the settler community in Kenya. However soon after independence, the Kenya Government realized the enormous potential of the tourism industry and hence undertook to upgrade the existing infrastructure as well as investing in additional facilities. To achieve its goal, the Government encouraged local and foreign entrepreneurs to invest in the tourism and hospitality industries thus paving the way for the future development of the sector. In spite of increased competition from other destinations, Kenya remains one of the most popular tourist destinations in Africa. Tourism in Kenya is mainly based on natural attractions, which include wildlife in its natural habitats as well as beautiful beaches amongst other physical features. Approximately 10% of the country has been set aside for conservation of wildlife and biodiversity. Game viewing is a very popular pursuit since most tourists are predominantly interested in seeing "the big five" namely the Elephant, Rhino, Lion, Buffalo, and the Leopard, not to mention other lesser and unique game the Africa's savanna and forests offer. The Western circuit, i.e. the tour of Western Kenya is now as exciting as ever, opening up new horizons in tourist destinations. A Safari is such a popular product that has enabled the country to continue recording remarkable growth in the volume of visitors. Kenya registered well over 1,000,000 visitors’ arrivals in 1997 while the bed capacity rose to over 73,000 beds in classified hotels. The sector is a major employer as it currently employs approximately over 219,000. This figure represents about 11% of the total workforce in the country. 2.0 EVOLUTION OF TOURISM IN KENYA

Before independence, the country had appreciable tourism activity. This situation favored us since we did not have to start from a scratch like many destinations in Africa as we had a fairly good but limited tourism infrastructure and in place. After independence the sector saw spectacular growth, which was characterized by strong government involvement and active partnership with the private sector. In view of the identified potential of the tourism sector, the Government formulated Sessional Paper No.8 of 1969 on the Development of Tourism in Kenya which defined the growth targets that it hoped to achieve in the years ahead as well as outline the areas where the Government would participate jointly with the private investors in developing the tourist industry. The Government policy as outlined in this historic document covered the following main fields: - * Type of tourism to be encouraged;

* Protection and development of Kenya's tourist attractions; * Protection and development of tourist infrastructure and superstructure as well as other tourist facilities; * Training and manpower development for the sector;

* Promotion and marketing in the tourist generating markets and * Research

The Government projected an average growth rate of approximately 20% each year in visitor arrivals. With the increase of package tours, tourists tended to stay longer than was the case previously. The growth in demand for hotel accommodation and other facilities increased proportionately. It is worth...
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