Spike in tourists arrival in Kenya in 2021

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Kenya registered a 34.76 percentage growth in the number of international visitor arrivals in 2021 that stood at 870,465, as compared to 567,848 in 2020 according to a report released today by the Tourism Research Institute.

Cabinet Secretary Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife Najib Balala (C), flanked by Principal Secretary State Department of Wildlife Prof. Fred Segar (L), and his Chief Administrative Secretary Joseph Boinett (R), speaks to the press today at the Serena Hotel Nairobi where he released the Tourism sector performance 2021 and projections for 2022. Photo by Wickliff Ananda

According to the report the performance was undermined by the upsurge of the Delta variant of Covid-19 during the first quarter but registered steady growth from June to December.

Speaking during a media briefing at the Nairobi hotel, Tourism and Wildlife Cabinet Secretary (CS) Najib Balala said this is an indication of a steadily growing trust for the Magical Kenya destination, which can be credited to renewed marketing efforts as well as confidence on the country’s efforts to contain the spread of Covid-19.

He said the growth was also supported by innovative products offered to both domestic and international markets by major players, mainly hotels and domestic airlines. Hosting of major sporting events, specifically the WRC – Safari Rally and the World Athletics under 20 also helped a lot to rebuild confidence in destination Kenya.

“The 34.76 per cent increase translated to Sh146 billion ($ 1.46 billion) in revenue, as compared to Sh88 billion ($885 million) in 2020, indicating that we are on an upward trajectory,” said CS Balala.

“The numbers are still low, but we are optimistic that we will eventually go back to our all-time high international visitor arrivals that is 2019, or even surpass it. This is because majority of our masses are vaccinated and international visitors will have faith in our destination again,” he added.

Out of the 870,465 international arrivals, 299,802 (34.44%) were on holiday, 257,357 (29.57 per cent) visiting family or friends, 229,804 (26.40 per cent), for business and Meetings, Incentives, Exhibitions, and Conferences (MICE), 46,654 (5.36 per cent) on transit, 19,053 (2.19%) for education, 8,737 (1%) for medical purposes, 7,010 (0.81%) for religion, and 2,048 (0.24%) for sports.

Further analysis of the report shows that the top 5 international arrivals by country are, USA (136,981), Uganda (80,067), Tanzania (74,051), UK (53,264), and India (42,159).

Jomo Kenyatta International Airport remains the major point of entry with 644,194, Moi International Airport 48,749, and others 177,522.

In January to September 2021, the bed occupancy rates increased to a total of 4,138,821 as compared to the same period in 2020 (2,575,812) recording a recovery of 60.7 per cent.

This sustained recovery of the hospitality sector was largely supported by domestic travelers (domestic bed nights grew by 101.3 per cent while international bed nights grew by 0.05 per cent).

By Hamdi Mohamud and Fardosa Bonaya

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