The tourism industry has been one of Kenya's third largest foreign exchange earners. In 2012, 1.2million tourists visited the country where consolidated earnings from tourism amounted to Kshs. 96 billion. Tourism is also a major source of employment, providing at least 400,000 jobs in the formal sector and over 600,000 in the informal sector (GOK and UNEP, 2008). Tourism is targeted as the leading sector in achieving the goals of the Vision 2030.
The Vision's economic pillar aims for the country to be among the top 10 long-haul tourist destinations in the world, offering high-end, diverse, and distinctive visitor experiences that few competitors can offer. Preserving the environment is essential if this goal is to be realized.The Economic contribution and variety of wildlife can be analysed through the various wildlife reserves within the region which includes:
• Kerio Valley National Reserve: Elephants, crocodiles and birdlife are common. • Lake Kamnarok National Reserve: bush pigs, waterbuck, buffalo, elephant, Rothschild's Giraffe, dik dik and warthog. • South Turkana National Reserve: wildlife includes elephant, giraffe, buffalo, eland, oryx, impala, bushbuck, greater kudu, grants and Thompson's gazelle, lion, leopard, cheetah, spotted hyena and jackal. There are crocodiles in the rivers and abundant birdlife. • Lake Baringo Reserve: home to a huge mix of marine life and bird species. It offers an extraordinary variety if bird life. • Lake Bogoria National Reserve: it has significant ornithological interest with 135 species of birds recorded. Popular with Flamingos. • Cherangany Forest: home to the rare De Brazza's Monkey. The Hills are also classified as an Important Bird Area (IBA) with over 73 forest-dependent species. • Sibiloi National Park: harbours variety of wildlife including common zebra, giraffe, hippos, crocodile and numerous bird species such as flamingos, pelicans and ducks. • Nasalot National Reserve: Elephants, Monkeys, Lions, antelopes, cheetahs, Dikdik are common animals in this park. • Lotiki Plains The plains have the highest number of wildlife in the region; its wildlife population is so high it has been nicknamed "the new Serengeti". The potential in wildlife is highly unexplored and unexploited.