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Economy

Kenya projects 20pc increase in tourism arrivals

Tourism Secretary Najib Balala during a media briefing in Nairobi on August 14, 2017. PHOTO | SALATON NJAU | NMG
Tourism Secretary Najib Balala during a media briefing in Nairobi on August 14, 2017. PHOTO | SALATON NJAU | NMG 

Tourist arrivals are expected to pick up in the second half of the year and cross the 1.5 million mark following the relatively peaceful election during the high season.

Tourism secretary Najib Balala on Monday forecast a 20 per cent rise in arrivals this year, with visitors seizing the chance to see the annual wildebeest migration in the Maasai Mara.

This means that the government is targeting 1,668,000 arrivals, which is still short of the 1,710,800 tourists who visited Kenya in 2012.

“We expect the number of arrivals to grow by 20 per cent by the end of 2017. We are in the high tourism season, when we receive high numbers of international visitors,” said Mr Balala said at a media briefing.

Tourists numbers tend to drop in days to the elections, which are often tense following fears of a repeat of the 2008 post-election violence in which 1,200 people were killed.

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On Monday, many shops opened in Nairobi for the first time in days, with cars and buses on the roads that had been deserted even before the result was announced of the August 8 presidential election.

The announcement was greeted by protests in parts of Nairobi and western Kenya.

Most hotels at the coast had an occupancy of between 40 per cent and 50 per cent, which is lower than the normal 60 per cent and 70 per cent during the high season that starts in July and ends in October.

The number of international visitors rose to 358, 985 in the year to May, up from 324, 276 in a similar period last year, reflecting a growth of 10.7 per cent. A faster growth is expected in the second half to lift arrivals to the targeted 20 per cent. 

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