The number of International arrivals into Kenya declined by about one per cent in the last six months compared to the same period last year.
A total number of foreign tourists who visited the country was 921,090 during the first half of this year compared to 927,797 recorded last year.
This was disclosed on Thursday by Tourism Cabinet Secretary (CS), Najib Balala during the 17th Kenya Association of Hotelkeepers and Caterers (KAHC) Annual Symposium at the Neptune Beach Hotel in South Coast.
”This figure represents a slight decline of 0.723 per cent compared to the same period in 2018,” said Balala.
However, Balala was upbeat that the sector would grow by about 10 per cent in the remaining six months saying the first six months of the year were usually the low season for the tourism sector.
He noted that the decline in numbers was mainly reported for the arrivals within the East African region, but the traditional source markets for Kenya remained strong.
”The decline is on cross border not the international arrivals. Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) and the Moi International Airport (MIA) recorded an impressive performance,” said Balala.
He said JKIA received a total of 623, 371 arrivals and Moi International Airport received 61, 739 arrivals, while other airports had 10, 426.
”This is very encouraging and is courtesy of everyone playing their part positively. I urge all of us to put in more effort to ensure that we perform better by the end of this year,” said The CS
At the same time, Balala said there was need for government and tourism stakeholders to work together to start implementing National Tourism Blueprint (NTB) 2030.
He said the Blue Print, which the Tourism Ministry developed to redirect the tourism sector by focusing on four key pillars – Product, Marketing, Investment and Infrastructure is expected to drive the sector to greater heights.
”It emphasizes the need to engage all key stakeholders to work together to realize sustainable tourism development in the country. I gladly note that several of our establishments and stakeholders are doing much to improve our tourism products, through refurbishment of existing products, investment in new products, quality of service delivery and digital marketing,” added Balala.
A number of tourism stakeholders interviewed by KNA said there was need to put emphasis on domestic tourism through introduction of various measures and attractive packages to boost the local market.
They contended that domestic tourism has the potential to sustain this lucrative industry during the off peak seasons to cushion the decline of international tourist arrivals.
By Mohamed Hassan