International arrivals fell 91.2 percent last month compared to similar period last year, highlighting the adverse effects of the coronavirus disease on the tourism sector.
Kenya received 14,049 tourists in August— the first month after resumption of international and domestic flights compared to 159,804 international arrivals in similar period last year.
Data from the Tourism Research Institute shows that 6,368 or 45 percent of the tourists came to visit friends and families while 3,685 were on holiday as the tourism industry started its gradual return to activities last month.
A further 2,335 were business travellers while 1,129 were on transit to other countries through the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport and the Moi International Airport in Mombasa.
Kenya suspended all international and domestic flights in March to curb spread of the coronavirus disease, a move that saw the tourism sector lose Sh80 billion in the first half of the year, setting the stage for one of the worst performance for a sector that contributes about 10 percent of the gross domestic product.
Tourism Secretary Najib Balala said that the ministry will for the first time be releasing the data on travel and tourists arrivals on a monthly basis as the sector slowly reopens after a five-month shutdown.
“The data released is invaluable to the country as it helps us to keep track of international tourist numbers to determine whether tourism and travel is improving since the easing of travel restrictions and the resumption of international flights into the country,” said Mr Balala.
Arrivals through Jomo Kenyatta International Airport were 13,249 or 94.3 percent followed by Moi International Airport that recorded 645 arrivals. Wilson Airport had 154 while Wajir Airport received one tourist.
The United States maintained its status as the country’s biggest market amid the Covid-19 pandemic, accounting for 2,768 tourists followed by the United Kingdom at 2,469. Uganda was third with 506 visitors.
Kenya’s tourism has traditionally enjoyed a boom between July and August as thousands flock to see wildebeest migrate from Serengeti National Park in Tanzania to the Maasai Mara.
The restrictions, however saw majority of the travellers stay away at a time the country is expecting one of its worst years in the tourism sector.
Kenya earned Sh163.6 billion from the sector last year, a 3.9 percent rise from Sh157.4 billion in 2018.