Humpback whale watching along Kenya’s coast is now occupying a more prominent place in Kenya’s coastal tourism calendar. This comes at a time when hotels and service providers in Watamu are reporting increased demand for whale watching excursions by tourists over the last three months. One particular hotel in Watamu – Hemingways Watamu – has been running up to 3 whale watching trips per day.
Commenting on what the ongoing humpback whale migration means for tourism along Kenya’s coast, Kenya Tourism Board Chief Executive Officer, Dr Betty Radier has said the natural phenomenon has added diversity and an unforgettable experience to Kenya’s coastal tourism circuit.
Dr Radier has said, “Kenya’s coastal region has largely been seen as a beach destination. The humpback whale migration has now created a great opportunity for tourists coming to Kenya to experience the humpback whale migration as part of their coastal experience.”
The KTB CEO added, “From a tourism product perspective, the humpback whale migration is now a top experience that can be sold to tourists as a must-see attraction alongside the world-famous wildebeest migration into the Maasai Mara National Reserve.”
Whale watching as a tourism activity in Kenya received a boost in mid-August when Tourism and Wildlife Cabinet Secretary, Najib Balala launched the Twin Migration campaign to promote the wildebeest migration and the humpback whale migration.
One of the best places to see the humpback whales in Kenya is at the Watamu Marine National Reserve where the Watamu Marine Association (WMA) has been studying dolphins and whales since 2011. WMA has been working with the Kenya Wildlife Service to help protect marine mammals, recycle plastic and marine litter and to engage the local community, including fishermen in eco-tourism activities.
Many tourists visit Watamu for sport fishing as well as dolphin and whale shark watching expeditions. Whale sharks are mostly seen during February and March. The area is also popular for snorkelling, scuba diving and kite surfing owing to its clear blue waters.