Wildlife in the Maasai Mara, Kenya. Image Credit: Devadasan K P/Gulf News

Kenya's inviting investment to revive its once glorious tourism sector that's best known for safaris, white sandy beaches and mountain climbing.

Over the years, the industry has dropped to Kenya's third-biggest foreign-exchange earner "- after agriculture and remittances "- following periods of political turbulence and terror attacks that marred the East African nation's image. Underinvestment in facilities also left many properties looking dated.

Now the Kenya Wildlife Service is pitching investors on projects in game reserves, marine parks and the mountains, restaurants, a convention center in the capital, Nairobi, and 71 ecolodges.

Investors in tented camps and lodges will receive 20-year renewable leases while those going into restaurants, shops and various experiences can sign 10-year renewable leases, according to an investment prospectus. Private investment is expected to boost the number of beds at KWS properties to 4,872 from 1,841.

"This strategic expansion will significantly enhance Kenya's allure as a destination," KWS Director-General Erustus Kanga told reporters.

Tourism accounts for 10.4 per cent of Kenya's gross domestic product and 5.5 per cent of formal employment, KWS said. International visitors jumped 72 per cent last year to 1.48 million, while earnings surged 83 per cent to 268.1 billion shillings ($1.85 billion).

KWS manages 32 game and marine parks, reserves, sanctuaries as well as a wildlife orphanage. About 2.18 million people visited its attractions in 2022, it said.