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Tourism Economic Research - Kenya Tourism Federation (KTF)


The tourism sector is key in Kenya’s economic development. It is one of the priority sectors identified for realizing Vision 2030. Under the economic pillar of the Vision, the sector is seen as a means to “make Kenya one of the top ten long-haul tourist destinations globally”. It envisions high-quality tourist offerings that would create an environment where tourists spend more per visit. The sector’s relevance is occasioned by its extensive backward and forward linkages with other economic sectors and the fact that it is highly labour intensive.

Since independence, the sector has largely been growing steadily. However, it had been adversely affected over the last decade with a sharp decline experienced since the 2007-2008 post-election violence. According to the National Tourism Strategy 2013-2018, signs of recovery were witnessed in 2011 when estimated revenues reached KShs. 97.9 billion compared to KShs. 62.4 billion in 2009. It estimates that tourism accounts for 11% of total direct formal employment in Kenya.

As of 2015, Kenya’s tourism was experiencing a crisis due to the ‘travel advisories’ issued by various governments of Kenya’s principal tourism markets. There had been unprecedented losses of jobs as a result of significantly lower tourist arrivals. Working with the private sector, the government through the Ministry in charge of tourism formed the Recovery Task Force to advise on the recovery models. The Task Force had developed recommendations but they have been made public and no action has been taken as the industry continues to decline.

Despite the economic importance of the tourism sector, there were several “gaps” in the information available regarding the full impact of tourism on the economy. The multiplier effect of the sector to Kenya’s economy is felt but had never been quantified. KTF and other tourism associations had been struggling to convince the government on the need for certain specific policy incentives due to lack of sufficient evidence of potential impact. The NRT correctly identified this as a challenge to tourism planning in Kenya, and specifically, “the lack of sufficient and reliable disaggregated data and information on the tourism industry. For instance, the contribution of tourism to GDP is reported differently in various reports. The Tourism Strategic Plan 2000-2012 recorded a 10% GDP contribution in 2011; the Economic Survey 2012 reported it as 3.26% for 2011; while the World Travel and Tourism Council (WT&TC) reported it under two categories; direct contribution being 5.7%, while total contribution is reported at 13.7%.”

KTF sought to undertake a comprehensive economic research to show the extent of importance of the tourism sector to the economy and use this as a basis to formulate proposals to be put to GoK on specific policy interventions to support the recovery, development and sustainability of tourism. The findings also sought to supplement the private sector position shared with the Tourism Sector Recovery Task Force.

Relevant documents to this issue are listed below.

World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) - The Economic Impact of Travel & Tourism,  2018

World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) - The Economic Impact of Travel & Tourism,  2017

World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) - The Economic Impact of Travel & Tourism,  2015

World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) - The Economic Impact of Travel & Tourism,  2014


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