Kenya has been voted the world’s top safari destination by the World Travel Awards (WTA) in the 22nd annual awards, giving a major lift to the country’s tourism sector.

The World Travel endorsed Kenya’s famous safaris, which contribute a large proportion to the country’s tourism, a major source of foreign exchange revenue.

The award is the second time Kenya has picked up the prestigious global award. The country previously won the award in 2013. Kenya received the award shrugging off stiff competition from a list of renowned nominees, which included: Botswana, Namibia South Africa, Botswana, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Wildebeest leaping into the Mara River Photo: Encounterthewild

World Travel Awards is the “travel industry’s most prestigious awards programme,” and rewards leaders in the tourism, airline, hotel and hospitality sectors around the world.

Various Kenyan companies, including the country’s flagship airliner, Kenyan Airways were nominated in various continental categories. Kenyan Airways was voted Africa’s leading airline in the business class category and Ethiopian Airways won the leading airline in the economy class, while South African Airways was voted Africa’s leading airline.

Kenya has a vibrant tourism industry, with international tourist arrivals for 2013 pegged at 1.49 million. A large proportion of the country’s tourism is premised on its vast safaris and tours of its National Parks and Game Reserves, which include the Maasai Mara Game Reserve.

According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, the total contribution of travel and tourism to Kenya’s Gross Domestic Product was “KES462.8bn (12.1% of GDP) in 2013, and is forecast to rise by… 5.2% pa to KES791.4bn (11.8% of GDP) in 2024”.

In 2013, travel and tourism “directly supported 226,500 jobs (4.1% of total employment). This is expected to… rise by 2.3% pa to 284,000 jobs (4.0% of total employment) in 2024,” the World Travel and Tourism Council said.

Source: World Travel Awards