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Abstract

This study uses the case study of Kenya to analyse the role of government in the development of tourism in the Third World. Usually, government involvement in the development of tourism reflects on the uniqueness and peculiarity of the tourism industry. By its nature, the development and provision of tourism product involves diverse stakeholders and activities. In the diverse socio-economic situation, it is usually the government that has the required social and political capacity and legitimacy to bring together and co-ordinate the activities of diverse and different interest groups which are involved in the development of tourism and, also, establish the required level playing field. In this regard, as probably is the case in most less developed countries where tourism is a major socio-economic activity, the Kenya Government has, over the years, played a crucial role in the development of the country's tourism industry. Particularly, during the exploratory stage of tourism development in Kenya, it was government involvement that helped lay the required groundwork and, as a consequence, jump-started the rapid development of the country's tourism industry. However, in recent years, particularly in the 1990s, Kenya's tourism industry is confronted with serious problems including declining international visitor arrivals and decreasing tourism revenues. Ironically, the same government that played a crucial role, especially in the initial development of the country's tourism industry, is currently being blamed as being responsible for the industry's current poor performance. Thus, this study will also examine the underlying factors responsible for the current downturns in Kenya's tourism industry and how they relate to the role of government in the development of tourism. Copyright © 2002 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.