Kate Simon: Kenya can't afford to bank on tourism for its future

Travel View

The problem of countries relying too much on tourism has been highlighted again by recent events in north-east Kenya.

The country has built a formidable profile as a holiday destination; its national parks are among the top places to go on safari in Africa. Consequently, tourism has become the main source of foreign exchange for Kenya, with 1.6 million holidaymakers now pouring up to $1bn into the country's coffers each year.

But the murder of David Tebbutt and the kidnapping of his wife Judith, followed by the abduction of Marie Dedieu, have inevitably hit Kenya's tourism industry just as it was recovering from the last slump in visitor numbers, in the 1990s, triggered by a wave of violence including the bombing of the American embassy in Nairobi.

The Foreign Office is currently advising against travel only to coastal areas within 150km (90 miles) of the Somali border. That leaves lots of other places to visit – the Great Rift Valley, Mombasa and Nairobi, the Tsavo National Park, to name a few. But how many people perusing travel brochures for some winter sun or safari action will flick straight past Kenya for now?

The Kenyan authorities are doing their best to limit the damage. The tourism minister has sought to point out that Kenya's offerings are not limited to the northern shores of its Indian Ocean coast.

"A glance at the map will show that these events have occurred hundreds of kilometres away from the coastal and inland destinations which are so popular with the majority of our visitors," says the minister. "With the small exception of the northern coast, none of our visitor destinations are in any way affected by some countries' travel advisories ...."

If tourism is hit hard, Kenyans will surely feel the pressure. Beyond the postcard images, this is a country entangled in regional politics, with war-torn Somalia on its doorstep. It still bears the legacy of British rule, dogged by corruption and answerable for its every move to the IMF. While it is hardly one of Africa's poorest countries, the gap between rich and poor is growing, with half its people living below the poverty line.

There are many reasons to go on holiday to Kenya and we should continue to visit. But the fallout from these tragic events show that tourism can never provide a sustainable route to prosperity.

***

Going away for Christmas? If you plan to travel by train in the UK, take note: the cheapest rail tickets for the holiday period are just going on sale. And, according to online booking agency The Trainline, you should snap one up soon to make real savings.

It says that the busiest days for travel over Christmas will be 23 and 24 December. While that's hardly a surprise, it is interesting to note that though 85 per cent of tickets for those days aren't bought until November, even December, if you buy an advance ticket now you could make significant savings.

For example, an advance ticket for a journey between Cardiff Central and London Paddington is now on sale for £11.50. If you wait until the day of travel that price will rocket by an eye-watering 88 per cent. Better treat yourself to an early Christmas present....

Do you have a travel issue? Email sundaytravel@independent.co.uk

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer - Product Development

    £26000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Product Development departm...

    Recruitment Genius: Assistant Manager - Visitor Fundraising

    £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Visitor Fundraising Team is responsi...

    Recruitment Genius: Developer

    £30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

    Recruitment Genius: Estates Contracts & Leases Manager

    £30000 - £34000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Estates Team of this group ...

    Day In a Page

    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

    Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
    House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

    The honours that shame Britain

    Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
    When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

    'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

    Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
    International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

    International Tap Festival comes to the UK

    Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
    War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
    Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

    'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

    Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
    Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

    BBC heads to the Californian coast

    The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
    Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

    Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

    Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
    Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

    Car hacking scandal

    Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
    10 best placemats

    Take your seat: 10 best placemats

    Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
    Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

    Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

    Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
    Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

    Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

    Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
    Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

    Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

    The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
    Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

    Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

    His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
    Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

    Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

    Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future