Kenya’s tourism sector looks set to break previous records and reach unprecedented heights this year, which is very promising. With an ambitious goal of attracting 1.2 million tourists and raking in a staggering estimated revenue of KES 100 billion, the country is setting its sights high, far surpassing the KES 62.46 billion earned in 2009. Experts predict that this surge will surpass the record-breaking KES 65.4 billion earned in 2007, the year when Kenya received 1.045 million visitors.

Reflecting on the year-to-date figures, a total of 701,691 tourists graced Kenya’s shores from January to August 2010. However, a noticeable downturn in the industry’s performance, particularly along the coastline, has raised concerns. The coastal region experienced a sharp decline of 20%, with a particularly steep drop observed in cruise ship passenger arrivals. Alarming statistics reveal that only 508 tourists disembarked from cruise ships, signifying a staggering 95% plunge from the numbers witnessed in 2007.

Escalating incidents of piracy have cast a shadow over maritime travel, resulting in its jarring decline. Furthermore, imposing Value Added Tax (VAT) on cruise ships arriving at the coast has deterred cruise tourism. Nevertheless, government authorities have announced that they have taken measures to address this issue. They hope this will alleviate its impact on the industry while boosting revenues.

Balala, the dynamic Tourism Minister, has delivered a rallying call to the various stakeholders within the sector. He urges industry players to stop complaining and be more proactive. Generating innovative ideas can help Kenya compete with top tourism destinations like South Africa, Mauritius, Morocco, and Egypt.

Kenya’s tourism industry is poised for a record-breaking year. Collaboration between government and private sector is key to maximizing financial gains and securing the country’s position on the world tourism map. With innovation and strategic vision, Kenya’s tourism sector can create a remarkable new chapter.