Visitor arrivals at top airports up 9.2pc


Tourists arrive at Moi International Airport in Mombasa. The airport received 61,146 international passengers in the eight months to August. PHOTO | KEVIN ODIT | NMG

The number of visitors arriving through Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) and Moi International Airport (MIA) increased by 9.2 per cent in the first eight months of the year compared to a similar period last year.

Data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) shows the number of arrivals stood at 632,936 in the eight months to August compared to 579,428 last year, indicating a better year for the tourism sector.

The KNBS data, contained in a September report, however shows a fall in visitor numbers between July and August this year, attributable partly to the General Election which was held in August.

The bulk of the incoming traffic was through JKIA, which received 571,790 visitors excluding locals compared to 61,146 international passengers who came through Mombasa.

Not all visitors were tourists however, with some being business travellers.

A total of 89,782 visitors arrived in August, a drop in the same month last year when 96,958 visitors came in, and in July 2017 when 105,241 people arrived through the two airports.

The drop came at a time of heightened tension in Kenya as the country held a bitterly disputed General Election, with the outcome of the presidential contest the subject of two petitions at the Supreme Court.

The court annulled the August 8 poll and ordered a fresh ballot, which was also the subject of petitions which were dismissed on Monday.
Most of the visitors who landed at the JKIA came from Europe, Africa and Asia.

Europe accounted for about 39,000 visitors on average per month, followed by Africa at 38,000 and Asia 31,000.

Passengers from Africa mostly arrived from Addis Ababa, Cairo, Dar es Salam, Entebbe, Harare and Johannesburg airports.

Bombay, Dubai, Jeddah and Muscat were among the most popular source airports for visitors from Asia to Kenya.

Those from Europe mostly came through Amsterdam, Brussels, London, Paris, Rome and Zurich airports.
According to the KNBS, tourist arrivals peaked in 2011 at 1,785,382, falling by 25 per cent to 1,339,700 in 2016.

Revenues however rose by 1.8 per cent from Sh97.9 billion to Sh99.7 billion in the same period, as did the growth of facilities and available bed space which grew by 22 per cent — from 17,419,600 to 21,258,500. The growth is expected to continue in the short-term as more local and global brands set up shop in the country and expand.

An August report by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) showed that 13 hotels had announced that they were ready to open in Kenya over the next five years, growing the bed space by more than 2,400 rooms.

READ: Tourism arrivals defy poll fears to cross 100,000 mark after long lull

Pegged on a growing economy and demand for bed space, the study indicates the hotels are expected to open their doors by 2021, including additional units by Radisson, Marriot and Best Western brands.

Keziah Odemba, a director at the Tourism ministry, in a past interview said that the trend signifies good tidings for the industry. Government investment in the sector has also been growing.

The World Travel & Tourism Council’s 2017 report on Kenya points to a consistent nominal increase in government spending on tourism for the last six years — from Sh31.9 billion in 2010 to Sh61.7 billion in 2016.

PwC also said that guest nights, which declined by a cumulative 15 per cent between 2011 and 2015, also rebounded with a 2.9 per cent increase in 2016.

The average room rate edged up 2.2 per cent in 2016 while room revenue grew 4.9 per cent.