Kenya is tapping into adventure, hiking and mountaineering experiences as key drivers in the recovery of tourism businesses that have been hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Najib Balala, Cabinet Secretary of Tourism and Wildlife, said as part of the sector's diversification and recovery strategy, Kenya was 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.
He said with tourism in Kenya being founded on and so well known for safaris, also enhanced the potential of the destination to be regarded as a top contender in global adventure tourism. He also noted that adventure tourism was one of the fastest-growing experiences in the world today, with travellers looking for life-changing experiences.
According to Balala, mountaineering and hiking had the potential to improve Kenya's tourism numbers because travellers were 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 today are also conscious about their health, and hiking is a good fitness and outdoor activity."
Kenya’s tourism earnings increased by 60.4% to about US$1.26bn in 2021 compared with US$775m in 2020, indicating that the country is on an upward trajectory of recovery.
Dubbed a destination of ‘sheer adventure’, Kenya’s Mt Longonot, which rises from the Great Rift Valley, is located within the Mt Longonot National Park. With its cool climate, lush greenery, and stunning views of the Rift Valley, it offers a variety of trails for hikers of all fitness levels and is also home to wildlife and more than 110 bird species.
The hike at Mt Longonot was also part of the Balala's preparation for an upcoming expedition at Mt Kenya in mid-May. The expedition will aim to re-position Mt Kenya as one of the key iconic adventure experience facilities in Africa, as well as raising funds toward improving the visitor experience.