From National to Regional Tourism Development Focus in Kenya: Examining the Challenges and Opportunities
Ndivo, R. M.
Waudo, Judith N.
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Despite Kenya's unique combination of tourist attractions spread throughout the country, the tourism activity in the country has always been almost exclusively centred on two geographical regions: the coastal beaches and a handful of game reserves and national parks. The goal of this study was thus to examine the reasons for the country's skewed tourism development and explore strategies of addressing the skew. The study was primarily based on documentary review of existing empirical and official government reports and other related documents. The study revealed key factors as being responsible for the lopsided development of Kenya's tourism. First and foremost, the country's tourism development policy proved to be a leading obstacle to the development of the country's tourist attractions and regions. Further, the centralised focus of Kenya's tourism planning, governance and marketing was also noted as being responsible for the skewed tourism development in the country. In addition, there was an evident lack of consensus on the demarcation of the different tourist regions in the country by the key tourism development agencies and stakeholders. It was also noted that Kenya lacks a tourism master plan, a roadmap to guide the development of the industry. Other factors included lack of awareness of the different attractions in the country and the passive role of tourism marketers in packaging and promoting the different tourist attractions in the country, only concentrating on the traditionally popular ones. The study thus recommends the adoption of a regional tourism development focus in Kenya that would facilitate the development and positioning of the different tourist attractions and regions as destinations on their own right. Unlike the centralised approach, this model would recognise the varied needs, level of maturity and vision of each region and be supported within the context of the existing national and county framework.