Because of this, Tourism is the largest income earner in Kenya, creating many jobs such as for hotel staff, waiters in restaurants and bartenders at bars, airport staff and tour operators, who all make a living off tourism, and in turn, the government can earn more money off taxes from these people, and also, increased business means that the government can earn more from airport tax. This puts in place a positive multiplier effect meaning that the influx of 11% of all paid employment in Kenya is in the tourism sector and 21% of foreign exchange earnings in Kenya are also due to tourism. Furthermore, some of this money gained from tourism, as well as donations from tourists are used to protect endangered wildlife in reserves such as the Masai Mara reserve and is used to fund the building of infrastructure in places such as Bamburi Nature Trail near the tourist hotspot Mombasa and to aid the development of medical facilities and schools in the area. Increased tourism in the area also promotes awareness and understanding of the culture and endangered wildlife in the game reserves. Tourism also brings business to other related economic sectors and is overall beneficial to Kenya’s economy.
However, there are also some downsides. Many of the jobs created are poorly paid, unreliable and only get business during popular months. In addition, much of the money from tourism is lost via leakage to the large business hotel operators, package holiday organisers and airlines, and therefore, only 15% of the income actually reaches Kenya. In nature reserves and game parks, there are many negative environmental and social impacts of mass tourism. The vehicles that the tourists travel in often overcrowd the small dirt roads and the tour drivers often drive too close to the animals, causing damage to the grasslands and disturbing the animals’ living patterns. Moreover, to make way for the tourist areas, the Masai tribespeople have been evicted from their ancient homelands and moved to the less fertile, low quality land, which is a direct negative social impact of the Kenyan efforts to promote tourism. As a result of this, the Masai people have had to resort to methods of illegal smuggling and forceful money-grabbing techniques to earn money from the tourists. They have set up fake villages with the people doing fake traditional routines, charging tourists to visit them and even charging them for photos. Because these national parks are such attractive tourist destinations, they also result in overcrowding, as 90% of tourists visit the south and east of Kenya, resulting in an even larger impact and strain on the environment, infrastructure and resources in the area. In popular tourist seaside resorts such as Mombasa, swimsuit-wearing tourists wander about the streets, acting as a direct opposition to the strong Muslim following’s clothing traditions and beliefs. In addition to this, seaside tourists trample over the coral reefs in the area, killing the sensitive coral, and the increasing number of tour boats in the area drop their anchors onto the reef, further damaging it.
Overall, I would say that Mass Tourism is not good for Kenya. Although the economic bonus is significant, and undoubtedly beneficial to Kenya, at this stage, despite efforts to make tourism more sustainable and environmentally-friendly, the large numbers of negative environmental and social impacts results in Mass Tourism in Kenya not being good for the country in the long term.