Take a deep breath. Hold it there. Now slowly let it go. Great, I hope you feel relaxed since we are going on a safari. And where else to go on a safari if not East Africa? We will cruise from the Kilimanjaro peaks (Tanzania) to Maasai Mara (Kenya). These two iconic countries never seem to fall far away from the tree of tourism. Shall we set off? Wait, am hoping we are together at the front door. If not, let me fill you in, tourism refers to the activity of travelling to a different place for less than a year in most cases and usually for leisure. This is not very different from travel which inclines more on business or a specific purpose which is often not exclusively pleasure.

Why to Kenya and Tanzania you might ask? 

Well, besides the fact that you will love these two countries, there is more. According to WEF Competitiveness Index (2019) Kenya and Tanzania made position 6 and 10 respectively among top African countries for Travel & Tourism. (I am sure they don’t mean to flaunt). Did I also mention that Africa’s tourism industry is now the second fastest growing after Asia Pacific? (Kimeria, 2019), In 2018 the international visitor arrivals to Kenya increased by 37.33% to 2,025,206 from 1,474,671 people in 2017. This is whilst domestic tourists growth was by 9.03% within the same years. Most of these visitors(73.9%) were on holiday while 13.3% were on business and conference visits(Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife, 2018).

This is whilst Tanzania was not boasting of being placed second worldwide for its natural beauty, according to the Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report by The World Economic Forum(export.gov,2019). (I will not tell you that Brazil came first, I don’t want you running off to that secret country). As well, over 44% of Tanzania’s land mass is set aside for national parks and game reserves. The country attracts more than one million visitors annually. 81% of the total number of tourist arrivals visit the country for leisure and holiday, with most of them coming from other African countries (46%) and Europe (32%). It is as a matter of fact the 7th most visited country in the Sub-Saharan Africa(Tanzaniainvest, 2019)

You asked why these countries and I say we boost these tremendous growth rates by showing up there and keeping you informed.

If not a safari, what then?

Serengeti! Yeeeiii!

I don’t mean to pry but are you a safari person? I might be dragging you into things you are least interested in. If you are not don’t worry there are tonnes of other options. See, tourism has often being underrepresented or do I say generalized? Just like I did when I used that picture. It was to draw your attention, did it work? Away from that, there is more to tourism than tall mountains and planes or lions and elephants. There are rivers and lakes, indeginous plants, beaches, camping sites, spas, cuisines, cultures and people among many others. We could group them in regards to activities and come up with a list close to this one; Adventure tourism, cultural tourism, religious tourism, medical tourism, eco-tourism, heritage tourism, food and drink tourism and educational tourism. Don’t tell me I did not mention one that draws your interest. I am sure I did; so buckle up…but before then I have something to confess.

What’s the catch?

After all the pomp and colour, you might be asking what the darker shade is. I will not lie, there is a tiny bit of a situation. Despite all those niceties, neither Kenya nor Tanzania was among the top 10 least restrictive destinations for visitors in 2018 (UNWTO). Worse still, only 5% of international tourist arrivals were to African countries. Then the bomb shell; Out of the $1.7 trillion earnings in the tourism sector, the African continent accounted for just 1% of it(Kimeria, 2019). What could have gone wrong?

Then we hear of Tanzania and its weak wildlife and habitat management practices without significant investment. Lack of improvement in this sector is gradually resulting to deterioration of wildlife which is a highly dependable variable in its case (export.gov,2019). The government of Tanzania is focused on developing the country into a multi-center tourism destination. Despite this, most efforts are mainly focused on the so called ‘northern circuit’. The northern circuit comprises of cites such as Mt.Kilimanjaro, Tarangire National Park, L.Manyara, Ngorongoro Conservation Area among others. This is often at the expense of the southern circuit which includes the Ruaha and Selous game reserves, the beaches to the south and the Katavi area famous for nature and adventure tourism (export.gov, 2019). I doubt it would hurt to have diversified investments to both circuits and thus increase arrivals and the revenue generated.

I am so sorry if I mention things you are unfamiliar with, but that’s the point of information right? Anyway, I could go on and on about these faults. Do not even get me started on Kenya and all the wildlife insecurity with poached animals and encroached forests and natural reserves (Pepela, 2019). Then there is the political instability, occasionally threatening all the efforts and taking the spotlight. Not to mention human-wildlife conflicts that come with Nairobi City having a national park right within its perimeters. What more could we ask for? On the bright side, our generation is particularly keen on finding solutions to these challenges. Look at Richard Turere handling it like a boss with lights that keep the lions away. Then there is the City Buddiz, a group of young Rwandese who are helping ease the way for tourists in Rwanda. I am just saying, there is a lot we could do as young people to address these challenges and create opportunities.

Back to the niceties,

Speaking of opportunities, travel & tourism sector employs around one and a half million people in Tanzania and is the country’s most significant source of foreign exchange(export.gov, 2019). In Kenya, tourism receipts increased by 12.4% from 2017 at nearly $1.20 B to about $1.57B in 2018(Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife, 2018). Just incase you are wondering why I keep mentioning figures, it is to reflect the economic gain that is linked with travel & tourism. Tremendous growth and impact is registered because of the integration of tourism with other sectors. These include transport, hospitality, travel agencies, tour operations among others. These are crucial investments areas in the quest for improvement and job creation (exportgov,2019).

Some trends that have shaped growth in the travel & tourism in different countries range from the most conventional approaches to the uncommon ones. Among these include improvements in the aviation sector in Kenya. This has ensured the introduction of direct flights to New York and Air France flying three times per week. There is also investors confidence since Nairobi is 3rd on the continent in the Hotel Pipeline Report(Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife, 2018). This is behind Lagos and Abuja (both in Nigeria, Aha!). Rwanda has recently been on the rise in meetings, incentives, conferencing & exhibitions (MICE) tourism. Ethiopia on the other hand has relaxed its visa restrictions and improved flight connectivity and their transport system. This pushed Ethiopia to grow by 48.6% in 2018 from the previous year making it the fastest growing travel country (African Business Online, 2019). . This is whilst Kenya and Tanzania are still struggling with policies and restrictions. Way I see it, taking a leaf out of what has been done before doesn’t seem like a bad idea at all.

Then there are those ideas. Those that seem to come out of the blues and create a tonne of opportunities. One of these radical approaches is the concept of shared economy. An example is the Airbnb and travel advisories whose growth is tied with travel and tourism. ‘Year of return’ is yet another engaging form of campaign that calls for people in the diaspora to return to their countries and engage in tourist activities(Kimeria, 2019). Marketing efforts in line with country’s brands are also a sine qua non of growth of the industry. This is such as branding Tanzania for its safaris and Kenya for the equator crossings. Tanzania has also been recognised for sport hunting. Hunting and forestry jointly contribute to 2-3 % of the GDP in Tanzania. This sector has been keenly regulated on a regular basis and hunting licenses kept on track as conservation measures. This is in contrast to Kenya which is struggling to tighten reins on anti-poaching policies (Tanzaniainvest, 2019). Smh.

Last but not least are those ideas that are picking up in modern times. Eco tourism is one of them. In summary, it is tourism directed towards exotic, often threatened, natural environments, intended to support conservation efforts and observe wildlife. We are finally finding a way to merge all concepts for the better good and for gain. How can I fail to mention community based tourism which involves local residents inviting tourists to visit their communities with the provision of overnight accommodation. Fun part the residents earn income as land managers, entrepreneurs, service and produce providers, and employees. The best way to make this work is to train and get our communities engaged.

Community tourism in Zanzibar!

Now what?

I have been talking on and on it’s probably time to go on that safari. You know, the one we have been going to? Okay never mind, we can do it next time when we have more time. In the meantime here is a couple of places we implore you to visit. Trust me we know you want to spend the least but enough, stay afloat and have fun. We got you. Here is a list of a couple of places we know you’d love to visit;

In Kenya, Pride Inn Express Nyali where you can get a room for 55 dollars a night. 

Pride Inn Express

Then there is Tembo House Hotel and Apartment in Tanzania for as low as 90 dollars. Perfect for couples and enjoying a honeymoon getaway. Are you there yet? Oh! And the swahili furniture especially unique to the culture here. 

Tembo Hotel

I haven’t even mentioned all the amazing options on tripadvisor whtter eere you can always hunt for the best prices. Some also include flight prices. Beter still others give you breakfast…huuuh? Huuuh? Hey! We’re just trying to save your pockets.Have you had a look at all the Airbnb options on their website? It’s as easy as deciding where you want to go and booking a room.

Lastly, we have no intention of getting roasted, so here is a list of references of sites we used.