Tourism earnings have more than doubled in the eight months to August as the sector continues to recover from a slump in the last two years despite 2022 being an election year.
According to Tourism Secretary Najib Balala, the sector booked Sh167.10 billion compared to Sh83.16 billion in the same period last year.
July posted the highest receipts in the period at Sh26.99 billion, with August recording Sh23.86 billion following a rise in international tourists.
The number of visitors surged 91.4 percent to 924,812 compared to 483,246 in the same period last year.
The growth follows continued global recovery in international travel from the pandemic, boosted by countries, including Kenya, permitting double-jabbed travellers.
“We have seen 2022 being a very good year, and our best month is July to August. Despite the elections, the numbers increased because we conducted a peaceful election,” said Mr Balala.
He, however, said restrictions on chartered flights to the coast could have suppressed the number of tourist arrivals.
“Airlines such as KLM, Qatar, Turkish want to come and bring visitors to the coast but were denied that permission by Ministry of Transport and that kills the tourism industry,” he said, adding that it has limited the recovery of arrivals to the coast by half.
“This has affected the main tourism market, such as Italy, which depends on charter flights. These are the issues that need to be discussed and addressed seriously. Otherwise, we will not be able to grow the number of tourists to what we had in 2019.”
In 2019, which is regarded as the best year for the sector, Kenya registered over 2.04 million international arrivals and Sh296.2 billion in earnings.
“Our projection is by the end of 2022 earnings will be Sh265.39 billion from Sh146.51 billion in the full year 2021. We expect 1.46 million people will arrive by December. We are catching to our 2019 figures,” Mr Balala added.
Global airlines’ pilots and staff shortages have also impacted the number of arrivals into the country. As a result, the sector has remained anchored by domestic tourism.