Recent terror attacks are crippling Kenya’s promising tourism sector

Recent Kenya attacks have had a major impact in the country’s tourism industry. Terrorism has been the major culprit for the poor performance of the tourism sector in the past decade.

Between the years 2011 and 2017, on an average, 60 Kenya attacks were carried out each year by different terror groups, each one having its own range of magnitude. Al Shabaab has been allegedly responsible for more than half of these attacks. Some of these include a high-profile attack in 2002 in Mobasa’s Paradise hotel, the 2013 Westgate shopping mall attacks, and the one on Garissa University in 2015.

All these Kenya attacks have had a major effect on the numbers usually obtained from tourism. Kenya has a development plan known as Vision 2030, which aims to transform the country into a middle-income country. Going by the goals set on the plan, tourists expected was projected at 3 million by the year 2017 from the recorded 1.7 million in 2012.

However, only 1.45 million visitors actually came into the country in 2017. A very challenging year for the industry was 2014, as the year recorded almost a hundred cases of terrorist attacks, which was an all-time peak. Recent attacks have once again raised major concerns that people relying on the tourism industry could face the terrible possibility of long periods of stagnation in the sector, which may further result in job loss, yet again.

The tourism sector in Kenya is mainly focused on its wildlife and beaches, just as it is in Tanzania. This means that tourists are spoilt for choice and can make an easy switch to competing destinations if the security condition in the country continues to be challenging.

The government realizes that this is a very important part of the economy, and as such have begun to take proactive measures. For example, in 2016, a national strategy to stop attacks, especially violent extremism was put into place by the government. The strategy is being implemented via the National Counter-Terrorism Center.