SPACES has been investigating ecosystem services and their contribution to poverty alleviation in Kenya and Mozambique since 2013. One part of this project has looked at tourism in the South Coast region of Kenya. From 2013-2015 Kenya had terrorism related travel advisories. SPACES co-investigator, Chris Sandbrook, analysed tourism data from 2011-2015 to understand how the terrorism attacks and the associated travel advisory effected the tourism industry and how the industry was able to cope with the shock. The data was collected by Chris Cheupe and provided by Judith Nyunja, Mwanamisi Mkungu, and Roy Muga from the KWS. A brief entitled, “Tourism at the Kisite-Mpunguti Marine National Park 2011-2015: A story of change and resilience” has been produced and will be presented to the KWS.

Key Messages from the KWS brief:

• There was a significant decline in visitors to the Kisite-Mpunguti Marine National Park after the 2013 terrorist attacks. Foreign tourist numbers declined much more drastically than Kenyan tourists. In 2011 there were about twice as many foreign tourists than Kenyan tourists, but by 2015 there were more Kenyan tourists than foreign tourists.

• There are two types of boats that tourists can use to visit Kisite-Mpunguti, local boats and more expensive company boats. Kenyan tourists preferred to use local boats, while foreign tourists used both kinds equally. Hence, company boats were affected more notably than the local boats after the 2013 terrorist attacks.

• The Kenyan tourists and the cheaper local boats play a very important role in ‘buffering’ the tourism industry against the effects of a crisis, because Kenyan tourists continue to visit the coast and use these services even when there is a slump in foreign non-resident tourists.

• Without the Kenyan tourists, the impacts of the terrorist attacks and associated reductions in tourist numbers might have been a lot worse.

• It is important to carry on recognising the important role that the Kenyan tourists play in the Shimoni area. They may not be as profitable for local businesses, but they are much more resilient than foreign tourists when the country is faced with a shock.

Click here to read the full brief.