Kenya is one of the world’s top tourist destinations characterized fascinating wildlife, exotic beaches, historic and prehistoric sites. In fact, 2017 saw international arrivals peak at about 1.4 million visitors to the country. The world seems to know just how magical Kenya is but Kenyans seemingly fail to acknowledge this sentiment. During the migration season in the Masai Mara, most lodges report about 80% of their guests being non-residents and a mere 20% being locals. In a nutshell, these statistics paint a fairly clear picture of just how wanting local tourism is. So why exactly do Kenyans not travel to see their own magical country?
Every year during Christmas Kenya experiences an exodus of sorts as many people leave their urban settings and travel upcountry to celebrate the festive period with family. This is about as much as most Kenyans travel for leisure and even then it is not a cheap affair. This fact is evidenced Njaanuary – Hungry January. A term coined to describe the month of January in which most Kenyans are broke due to unmetered spending over the Christmas festivities in December. If a simple trip upcountry is such a financial inconvenience to Kenyans then it is unlikely that they would make expensive travel plans to the Mara or other popular tourist destinations. Such vacation trips are mistakenly thought to be something only foreigners and the super rich can afford.
The good news is that hoteliers and other stakeholders in the tourism sector are cognisant of the financial constraints of most Kenyans. Consequently, rates in hotels can be up to 40% less for residents. Further still, a myriad of local travel agencies have popped up in the recent past and have very affordable prices for travel packages. One can spend a weekend at the renowned Sarova Whitesands Resort and Spa for just KES 19,300 a night among other offers. With a little planning and saving this is quite affordable and completely worth it.
Speaking of planning, a survey done Jumia Travel showed that about 68% of Kenyans plan their holiday trip less than a month before the actual trip. Needless to say, this is not advisable and will only make the financial hurdle of traveling seem insurmountable. Planning for a vacation is something that should be done months in advance. Between 6 and 12 months. Early planning gives one ample time to conveniently save for the trip. This way such a trip becomes less of a financial burden and more of the vacation it should be.
Planning several months in advance helps one gather enough information about the best destinations to travel to and other useful information such as where to stay, the best time to visit for a worthwhile experience, and also be on the lookout for discount offers. Most Kenyans simply do not plan well or early enough for their travel engagements and this makes traveling seem even more impractical. Early planning and patiently saving for the perfect holiday is the key to making travel affordable and convenient.
Chances are most Kenyans do not know the actual cost of visiting, say, Lake Nakuru National Park for a weekend but they know it is expensive. Other Kenyans probably do not know that it is cheaper to travel during the off-peak season than the peak season. Worse still some people are not aware of tour companies out there that have amazing offers to travel to some of the most exotic places in the country. The point here is, if one is bent on traveling and seeing the country being informed about matters travel is vital. Being informed demystifies travel and makes planning so much easier. Furthermore, being informed fights off the fear of the unknown which is also a factor that discourages some Kenyans from traveling. Simply googling one’s travel question can empower one with so much information. Following travel vloggers and bloggers on social media such as SusanLuckyWong or Pendaroma on Instagram can also prove very insightful.
The good news is that local tourism is actually on the rise. Social media campaigns such as #tembeakenya and #magicalkenya have served to sensitize Kenyans on the positives of local tourism and just how practical it is. If wondering where to visit first here are 5 spots for a perfect holiday trip in Kenya. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for the best articles on travel and the best travel offers. Happy traveling!