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Tourist numbers to grow 20pc as sector rebounds: KTB

Tourists disembark from a cruise ship. Tourist
Tourists disembark from a cruise ship. Tourist arrivals grew 16.8 per cent in the first three months of 2016, signalling a rebound for a sector that has been losing cash over the past six years. PHOTO | FILE |  NATION MEDIA GROUP

The local tourism sector is expected to continue its rebound this year with the Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) projecting it will grow at a rate of 33 per cent to record 1.6 million tourist arrivals.

“We expect the number of arrivals to grow by 400,000 to 1.6 million at the close of the year compared to 1.18 million from last year,” said Jacinta Nzioka-Mbithi, the Acting KTB chief executive.

Ms Nzioka-Mbithi on Monday indicated that the growth was expected due to the revision of travel advisories against Kenya, with some key tourist source markets withdrawing or toning down the alerts.

Tourist arrivals grew 16.8 per cent in the first three months of 2016, signalling a rebound for a sector that has been losing cash over the past six years.

Official data shows that the number of international visitors stood at 206,978 between January and March, up from 177,085 during a similar period in 2015 when arrivals slumped by 30.8 per cent.

President Uhuru Kenyatta's recent waiver of landing fees for chartered tourist planes is also attracting some European players, a boost to the sector.

TUI Poland Charter, whose chartered aircraft have a 180 passenger capacity, is expected to begin flying directly to Mombasa’s Moi International Airport in July this year on a weekly basis.

The deal follows consultations between Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala and representatives of the multinational travel and leisure giant.

More flights by TUI UK and TUI Europe will start in November and December as the companies continue marketing their east African tourism packages.

German Condor has also indicated that it may increase the frequency of its flights to Nairobi from July this year.

“Our destination is back on the marketing brochures and the travel trade is aggressively selling Kenya as it were,” she said.

Ms Nzioka-Mbithe was speaking at the launch of the sixth edition of Magical Kenya Travel Expo.

This year's event is expected to bring over 150 exhibitors and 180 hosted buyers with interest from new markets including Algeria and Turkey.

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