Uganda and Tanzania are Kenya’s main tourism source markets in East Africa
Uganda and Tanzania continue to be Kenya’s main source markets for tourists after the United States.
According to the latest data released by the Tourism Research Institute, last year Kenya welcomed 870,465 tourists, up from 567,848 in 2020.
The United States was Kenya’s main source market with 136,981 tourists, followed by Uganda with 80,067, Tanzania with 74,051, and the United Kingdom and India with 53,264 tourists and 42,159 respectively. .
The tourism sector in Kenya recorded a growth of 53.29% in 2021, following the lifting of restrictions linked to Covid-19.
There was a 34.76% increase in revenue, which translated to $1.46 billion from $885 million in 2020.
Holidaymakers were the majority of arrivals with 299,802, accounting for 34.44% of all arrivals, followed by those visiting family with 257,357 (29.57%).
Business travelers numbered 229,804, including 46,654 (5.36%) in transit.
Some 19,053 visitors (2.19%) came to Kenya for educational purposes and 1% for medical reasons.
Kenya’s Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala said arrivals had been boosted by the holding of the WRC’s Safari Rally and World Under-20 Athletics Championships in the country.
“We have a strategy for future growth and one of the points is to ensure that we develop and modernize Kenya’s aviation industry which is essential for international arrivals,” Balala said.
He also attributed the growth to renewed marketing efforts, measures to contain the Covid-19 pandemic and innovative products offered to domestic and international markets by hotels and airlines.
Jomo Kenyatta International Airport remains the main entry point with 644,194 tourists, Moi International Airport in Mombasa had 48,749 and the other entry points attracted 177,522 visitors.
From January to September 2021, bed occupancy rates increased to a total of 4,138,821 compared to the same period in 2020 (2,575,812), registering a recovery of 60.7%.
Covid-19 had a greater impact on the tourism sector, with the industry registering around 1.18 million job losses with a loss of labor income of around $1.52 billion.
Of the 1.18 million jobs lost, 295,000 served in the accommodation service, 162,000 (food and beverage), 216,000 (passenger transport), 24,000 (attraction sites) and 486,000 (artifacts).
CS Balala attributed the loss to low occupancy, canceled trips and disruptions to foreign and local travel which led to the closure of several hotels.
This sustained recovery in the hospitality sector was largely supported by domestic travellers, with domestic overnight stays increasing by 101.3% while international overnight stays increased by 0.05%.
The CS said the spread of the Delta variant suppressed growth in the tourism sector in the first quarter of 2021, but there was steady growth from June to December 2021.
Balala said the country plans to increase passenger flight landings from 59,486 currently in 2020 to 70,193 this year, visitor arrivals from 870,467 to 1.02 million tourists this year despite various challenges posed by the August general election.