Kenya tourism, an unpolished diamond

Kenya’s beauty is not matched by its position in the world of tourism. This should really be one of the top tourist destinations in the World. Instead, Kenya is losing ground to many of its peers.

Blog by Wolfgang Fengler

I enjoy the full beauty of Kenya with my family, and we all agree that this is one of the most beautiful countries in the world. If you created an index of “natural beauty per square-kilometer” Kenya would probably come up on top of the list. Starting from Nairobi, within a few hours of driving, you enjoy the most amazing nature: the Masai Mara, Mt Kilimanjaro, Mt Kenya, and Lake Victoria, are all within reach. Nairobi is surprisingly pleasant, with one of the best climates in the world: it is one of the few cities where you neither need air-conditioning nor heating—all year long (well, it will soon get “cold” in July but the fireplace will help).

But, as in many other fields (not least football), Kenya keeps punching below its weight. Tourism is critical for Kenya’s economy. Together with tea and horticulture, it earns the lion’s share of the foreign exchange. Without tourism, Kenya’s current account deficit would widen further and exceed 15 percent of GDP. And when these visitors exchange their dollars, yens or euros for shillings, the national currency gets a boost. More importantly, tourism is a labor-intensive activity: think of all the jobs created (about 100,000 by some estimates), for park rangers, to airline crews, and hotel employees, who directly rely on it.

You can read what Kenya in the eye of the blogger could do to improve the situation in the rest of the blog on worldbank.org

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