Kenya leverages on hiking, adventure to shore up tourist numbers

Kenya leverages on hiking, adventure to shore up tourist numbers
Najib Balala (2nd R), the cabinet secretary of Tourism and Wildlife of Kenya, joins visitors in hiking Mt. Longonot National Park, Kenya, on May 7, 2022. COURTESY PHOTO/Xinhua

Nairobi, Kenya | Xinhua | Kenya said on Sunday 8, May 2022 that it has tapped into adventure, hiking and mountaineering experiences as key drivers in the recovery of tourism businesses that have been ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Najib Balala, the cabinet secretary of Tourism and Wildlife, said as part of the sector’s diversification and recovery strategy, Kenya is well placed to leverage into these niche segments thanks to the diverse opportunities and attractions found across the destination.

“I encourage Kenyans to visit some of the mountaineering and hiking destinations in the country. They can be a pocket-friendly option for many people because they include day trips which are easily accessible,” Balala said in a statement issued in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya.

Balala, who spoke after a hiking expedition at Mt. Longonot, said the foundation of Kenya known as a leader in Safari also enhances the potential of the destination being regarded as top in adventure tourism. He also noted that adventure tourism is one of the fastest-growing experiences in the world today with travelers looking for life-changing experiences that suit them.

According to Balala, mountaineering and hiking have the potential to improve Kenya’s tourism numbers because travelers are looking for immersive and engaging opportunities.

“We must be ready to demonstrate to both domestic and international visitors that we have more than Beach and Safari experiences. People are today also conscious about their health and hiking is a good fitness and outdoor activity,” he said.

Balala said tourism earnings increased 60.4 percent to 146 billion shillings (about 1.26 billion U.S. dollars) in 2021 compared to 775 million dollars in 2020, indicating that the country is on an upward trajectory.

Dubbed “Sheer Adventure” destination, Mt. Longonot which rises from the floor of the Great Rift Valley is located within the Mt. Longonot National Park which is one of the many fascinating, yet least visited attractions of Kenya.

Read Also: Uganda relaxes PCR test requirement for fully vaccinated travelers

With its cool climate, lush greenery, and stunning views of the Rift Valley, Mt. Longonot which offers a variety of trails for hikers of all fitness levels is also home to wildlife and more than 110 bird species, making it a birding paradise.

The hike at Mt. Longonot was also part of the Balala’s preparation for an expedition at Mt. Kenya in mid-May.

The expedition will aim at re-positioning Mt. Kenya as one of the key iconic adventure experience facilities in Africa as well as raising funds toward improving the visitor experience.