Kenya registered a 53.29% growth in tourism in 2021, with the US, Uganda, and Tanzania as key tourist sources.
After the United States of America (USA), Uganda and Tanzania continue to be key tourist sources for Kenya, with the nation seeing a 53.29 percent gain in 2021 after the easing of Covid-19 limitations.
This is despite the fact that the tourist business had a 34.76 percent growth in income, totaling $1.46 billion, compared to $885 million in 2020.
According to the most recent Tourism Research Institute figures, Kenya attracted 870,465 visitors last year, up from 567,848 in 2020.
Between January and December 2021, the United States ranked first with 136,981 visits, followed by Uganda (80,067) and Tanzania (74,051), with the United Kingdom and India ranking fourth and fifth with 53,264 and 42,159 visitors, respectively.
Holiday tourist arrivals accounted for 34.44 percent of total arrivals, followed by those visiting their family at 257,357 (29.57 percent), and 229,804 visitors were listed as those who visited the East African nation for business and Meetings, Incentives, Exhibitions, and Conferences (MICE). Another 46,654 persons (5.36 percent) were documented as being in transit.
Barely 19,053 people (2.19 percent) traveled to Kenya for education, with only 1% coming for medical care.
Najib Balala, Kenya’s Tourism Cabinet Secretary, said that the country’s choice to host big sports events, notably the WRC Safari Rally and the World Athletics Under 20, enhanced visitor arrivals and helped to reestablish trust in Kenya as a destination.
“We have a future growth strategy, and one of them is to ensure that we expand and modernize Kenya’s aviation industry, and equip our main international airport, Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, with modern international facilities that deliver an efficient and friendly customer experience; and expand Ukunda and Malindi Airports, which are critical for international tourist arrivals,” Mr Balala said.
He also attributed the significant increase in tourism to renewed marketing efforts to promote Kenya as a magical destination, efforts to contain the Covid-19 pandemic, and innovative products offered to both domestic and international markets by major players, primarily hotels and domestic airlines.
“Aside from that, we need to expand our MICE facilities with ultramodern convention centers with appropriate capacity to target areas with development potential, such as France, Sweden, Poland, Mexico, Israel, Iran, Australia, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and Belgium.”
JKIA continues to be the most important point of entry, with 644,194 passengers, followed by Moi International Airport with 48,749 passengers. Other access points serviced a total of 177,522 guests.
“The figures are currently modest, but we are hopeful that we will soon return to, or perhaps beat, our all-time high in foreign tourist arrivals, which was in 2019.” This is because the vast majority of our people have been immunized, and overseas tourists will have renewed trust in our destination,” Mr Balala said.
From January to September 2021, bed occupancy rates climbed to a total of 4,138,821 compared to the same period in 2020 (2,575,812), representing a 60.7 percent recovery.
Covid-19 had a higher effect on the tourist industry, resulting in around 1.18 million job losses and a loss of approximately $1.52 billion in labor income.
Of the 1.18 million employment lost, 295,000 were in the hotel sector, 162,000 in food and beverage, 216,000 in passenger transportation, 24,000 in attractions, and 486,000 in manufacturing (artefacts).
CS Balala blamed the loss on poor occupancy, cancelled trips, and delays to foreign and domestic travel, which resulted in the closure of numerous hotels.
Domestic travelers contributed significantly to the hotel sector’s ongoing recovery, with domestic bed nights increasing by 101.3 percent while foreign bed nights increased by 0.05 percent.
The spread of the Delta variation, according to the CS, inhibited development in the tourist industry in the first quarter of 2021, although there was continuous increase from June to December 2021.
Despite the hurdles posed by the August General Election, Mr Balala said that the government expects passenger aircraft landings to climb from 59,486 in 2020 to 70,193 this year, and visitor arrivals to increase from 870,467 to 1.02 million visitors this year.