Africa accounted for 29 per cent of international arrivals last year as the Kenyan tourism industry grew at the backdrop of increased business, cultural and linguistic ties between countries in the continent, according to Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala.
Mr Balala was speaking at the 61st UNWTO Regional Commission for Africa Conference in Abuja, Nigeria, last week. He also noted that creation of the Continental Free Trade Area would further boost the intra-African tourism.
“Indeed, Africa has shown great potential over the last five years gaining a five per cent share of arrivals by region over the past five years. We believe Africa is the next frontier in the tourism business.”
Mr Balala, who is also the Chairman of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) Commission for Africa, credited this to Kenya’s increased investment in African markets such as Uganda, South Africa, Nigeria, Ethiopia and Rwanda over the last three years.
“As part of that investment, Africans wishing to visit Kenya are now eligible to receive a visa on arrival. Kenya is now among 21 African countries which have either relaxed or scrapped visa rules,” said Mr Balala.
To boost tourism between Kenya and Nigeria, the Kenya Tourism Board last week held a two-day workshop to train travel agents on creating attractive local tourism packages.
Arrivals to Kenya from Nigeria have steadily grown from 11,072 in 2009 to 16,165 in 2017, reflecting a 46 per cent growth.
In the first quarter of 2018 (January to March), the market posted 3,434 visitors up from 3,101 recorded during the same period in 2017, a 10.7 per cent growth.
Travel from Nigeria to Kenya continues to be for business and leisure purposes. Leisure travel grew from 50 per cent of total arrivals in 2015 to 61 per cent in 2016.
Urban centres such as Nairobi and Mombasa hold the highest appeal due to the rich offerings of social scenes and shopping.