Economy

Foreign tourism grows 53pc but remains below pre-pandemic levels

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Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NMG

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Summary

  • International arrivals increased 53 percent in the 12 months to December last year compared to a similar period in 2020, mainly on the renewed marketing efforts as well as confidence in the country’s efforts to contain the spread of Covid-19.
  • Kenya recorded 870,465 tourists between January to December last year compared to 567,848 international arrivals in a similar period last year, data from the Tourism Research Institute shows.

International arrivals increased 53 percent in the 12 months to December last year compared to a similar period in 2020, mainly on the renewed marketing efforts as well as confidence in the country’s efforts to contain the spread of Covid-19.

Kenya recorded 870,465 tourists between January to December last year compared to 567,848 international arrivals in a similar period last year, data from the Tourism Research Institute shows.

The report shows that 257,357 or 29.57 percent came to visit family and friends while 299,802 or 34.44 percent were on holiday. A further 229,804 were business travellers.

The tourism industry started its gradual return to activities in August 2021 with the resumption of international and domestic flights.

“The country recorded a gradual growth in arrivals, since the resumption of international flights, registering 14,049 arrivals in August, 26,018 in September, and 39,894, in October respectively,” Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala said in a statement on Wednesday.

The tourism numbers translated to Sh146 billion in revenue, as compared to Sh88 billion in 2020, indicating that the country is on an upward trajectory. 

“The numbers are still low, but we are optimistic that we will eventually go back to our all-time high international visitor arrivals that are 2019, or even surpass it. This is because the majority of our masses are vaccinated and international visitors will have faith in our destination again,” Mr Balala said.

The data shows that the top five international arrivals by country are the USA (136,981), Uganda (80,067), Tanzania (74,051), the UK (53,264), and India (42,159).

Jomo Kenyatta International Airport remains the major point of entry with 644,194, Moi International Airport 48,749, and others 177,522.