Kenya tourism still going strong after January Nairobi attack


Tourism in Kenya is experiencing sustained growth with minimal long-term impact from a hotel attack in Nairobi that killed 21 people in January.

On 15 January, the Nairobi DusitD2 hotel complex was attacked by al-Shabaab militants in a siege that lasted almost 24 hours. The incident made global headlines, just weeks after Kenya’s tourism board announced impressive arrival figures for 2018. However, the latest figures suggest the attack has done little to harm the country’s long-term tourism prospects.

Tourism numbers still strong in Kenya

In 2018, Kenyan tourism experienced an impressive 37 percent jump in arrival numbers, surpassing 2 million visitors – 73% of whom were leisure travellers. According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, this contributed 8.8 percent of Kenya’s GDP in 2018, bringing in US$7.9 billion to the country’s economy.

When the DusitD2 attack rocked Kenya in January this year, the tourism industry braced itself for a heavy hit. However, as reported by Skift, the impact felt by on-the-ground businesses in the leisure travel market has been limited.

The Nairobi DusitD2 reopened on 1 August, following a six-month renovation and the hotel says the reopening has gone smoothly.

Analysts have suggested travellers are becoming desensitised to terror attacks and travel warnings while pointing out that the impact of January’s attack was smaller than it could have been, as it occurred during the low season.

Featured image: By Shadychiri – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

About Aaron Brooks

Aaron Brooks is a UK journalist who wants to cut out the international agendas in news. Spending his early years in both England and Northern Ireland he saw the difference between reality and media coverage at an early age. After graduating from the University of Chester with a BA in journalism, his travels revealed just how large the gap between news and the real world can be. As Editor-in-Chief at East Africa Monitor, it’s his job to provide a balanced view of what’s going on in the region for English-speaking audiences.