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International arrivals record 18.42 percent increase under one year

International arrivals into Kenya have grown by 18.42 percent in the last 16 months with the country receiving 273,412 more visitors, Government Spokesperson Isaac Mwaura, has said.

Mwaura said that the country was able to rake in an additional Sh.650 million from the tourism sector alone, due to spending in hotels has also increased by three percent with regards to bed occupancy.

Mwaura said that this means that more money has been injected into the economy, as hotels realize more profits seeing that the number of days that tourists spend in Kenya, has increased by one day from 10 to 11 days.

Addressing the Press, Thursday, at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) on the insights of the ongoing Service Delivery Review Roadshow, Mwaura said that Tourism is the fourth largest foreign exchange, earner in the country.

“We pride ourselves as a very hospitable country, with our slogan ‘Hakuna Matata’ being a global catchphrase for international travel. Our country is now visa free meaning that we shall have more visitors coming into our country going forward,” said Mwaura.

He explained that tourists come to Kenya primarily to see animals and the government is putting in place measures to ensure that the endangered species such as the Northern Rhino- whose current population is only two in the country do not become extinct.

“Kenya has also increased training opportunities for 1,044 youth under the Kenya Kwanza Administration in the tourism sector. These graduates will help support this growing sector of the economy, whose full potential is yet to be realized,” said Mwaura.

He highlighted that the Ronald Ngala Utalii Training College, that will be opened in June this year will have a capacity to train 5,000 youth at a go.

“The focus is to make the college a centre of excellence on export labour to countries such as Saudi Arabia, that is building a new city, requiring 350,000 workers,” said Mwaura.

At the same time, Mwaura revealed that the country has become a popular destination for international Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibition (MICE) travel.

According to Mwaura, last year alone, local and international conferences hit the 10,000 mark with an increase of 2,151 conferences, and over 14,000 delegates from around the world.

He added that a total of 869 youth were recruited last year alone to work in foreign ships thus earning an income for their families in foreign currency.

“An additional 621 common interest groups comprising fishermen and other forms of trade within the blue economy were given grants amounting to Sh.1.5 billion in the last one year to boost their businesses,” said Mwaura.

He said that in addition, 26 boats have been donated by the government to eight Beach Management Units (BMUs) while 875 fishermen have been trained on how to fish in the deep sea.

By Joseph Ng’ang’a

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