In 2007, Kenya recorded some 1.8 million visitors bringing in nearly $1 billion from the tourism industry, but political events in the country which were aggravated by the emerging global financial and economic crisis, led to a slump in tourist arrivals in 2008.
In 2009, with support from Kenya Airways, the Kenya Tourist Board made efforts to rejuvenate the industry by involving 250 travel agents, tour operators, and media representatives to improve the image of the country as a tourist destination.
The results paid off and the industry went close to hitting the 2007 figures. The more conservative sections of the industry still believe that by 2012 the two million visitor threshold will be crossed, while the more optimistic operators hope that this can be achieved in 2011.
With the world economy coming out of recession now almost everywhere, it is thought that realistic to see a new arrival record established in 2010, although the revenue growth may lag behind for a while as the market still depends on a range of special offers to match the marketing and sales efforts of other long-haul destinations.
This in particular applies for beach holidays, while the safari sector - offering a generally unique product with little competition beyond the Eastern African region - might see a return to the per capita revenues from before the crisis.
A joint marketing effort is underway through the East African Community, aimed to promote the five East African countries as one destination with many attractions, may also help the effort, but pending side issues like a common tourist visa permitting the entry to all of the EAC member states must first be resolved before this initiative can truly bear fruit.