Sports Tourism in Kenya

Sports Tourism involves traveling from one country or town to another with the main purpose of watching a sporting event. While this has not been a popular form of tourism in Kenya, it is the fastest growing sector in the world generating more than $600billion annually according to World Travel Market and World Tourism Organization. There has been an increased interest in sports by most people due to the fact that it offers a different feel to the traditional attractions.

Locally, sports tourism hasn’t been a popular choice. Only a few fans can be spotted moving from town to town to support their teams( Hello Ingwe & Gor fans). Sports in Kenya undergoes a lot of scrutiny and with the no-nonsense attitude of Kenyans, only the best get the fans. Thus only cricket(a few years ago), athletics and rugby have tapped into this idea of sports tourism. It’s hard to convince guys to spend their money to travel and go watch a mediocre match, or just one game & travel back. And that’s where the federations and the government are slacking.

They are a worldwide entity. (Photo courtesy)
They are a worldwide entity. (Photo courtesy)

Having a look at the most successful sports events with a huge following around the country, one thing is evident… they are just not events, they are festivals. The Maralal Camel Derby, The Lamu Donkey Race, The Lewa Marathon, The Kenya Open, Bullfighting in Kakamega, The Rusinga boat race, Driftwood 7s, Prinsloo 7s and Safari Sevens …all have more than just the sport to offer. You travel to experience the place, the culture and food and have fun while enjoying the sporting events.

All these events aforementioned have been going on for years, not because they are special but because of good organization and planning. We know of similar sports events that had potential but didn’t last to the 3rd year. They also have a significance hence their popularity. Maralal Camel derby race is an internationally acclaimed event which aims to raise funds to empower the local communities. Lewa Marathon is dubbed one of the world’s toughest marathons with the aim to raise funds towards conservancy and supporting local community projects. Safari sevens on the other hand is a major sport activity in the Kenyan calendar as local and international fans mingle.

Lewa Safaricom Marathon (photo: jambonairobi.co.ke)
Lewa Safaricom Marathon (photo: jambonairobi.co.ke)

One of these events is about to happen. Driftwood 7s is held annually in Mombasa, part of the kenyan rugby calendar. Maybe being held in the coastal town has a part in it being popular, but being a rugby event it’s no brainer why it’s loved. It will be held on 2/3 September at Mombasa Sports Club. With the SGR at our disposal, why not hop into & out of Mombasa over that weekend. Never been to a rugby event, the better. You can also join the Tusker guys who are offering to cover costs for a fan for that particular event. They are currently running a competition on instagram and on facebook where the winner will be selected & enjoy an all expenses paid trip(minus accommodation). Hop in!

Join the fun! (Photo: @tuskerlager)
Join the fun! (Photo: @tuskerlager)

And if not Driftwood 7s then save up & attend any of the other events. It’s good to try other ways of travel, you’ve done enough of beaches and parks. Go ride a camel in Maralal, a donkey in Lamu or run with wild animals of Lewa. They are plenty more I have not mentioned, but you get my point…save up and get sporty on the road.

  • Maralal Camel Derby(Maralal) – 1st  to 3rd September 2017
  • Prinsloo 7s(Nakuru) – 23rd to 24th September 2017
  • Lamu Festival(Lamu) – November 2017
  • Lewa Marathon(Lewa Conservancy) – June 2018
  • Rusinga Festival(Rusinga) – December 2017
  • Safari Sevens(Nairobi) – 3rd to 5th November 2017
Safari Sevens
Safari Sevens
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