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Tourism numbers improving despite the Covid-19 disruption

Kenya received 305,635 international arrivals in the period between January 2021 to June 2021, according to data released by the Tourism Research Institute (TRI), today.

Despite the encouraging number, TRI, however, warns that the country is yet to realize its potential because the figure is only a fifth of the two million visitors received in 2019.

In a press release on international tourism Performance for the Period of January to June 2021, TRI says the reason for dismal but encouraging numbers is because of the Covid-19 pandemic and the lockdowns that ensued which affected the travel trends this year.

Cabinet Secretary (CS) Tourism and Wildlife, Najib Balala, said that the Government is still engaging and hope the travel restrictions will be lifted not only by the UK but across the world.

“We understand what this is and at the same time, we can see the UK dropped to number five (5) due to the effects of the unfair travel restrictions and putting Kenya in the Red List despite our Covid-19 numbers giving a different scenario,” stated CS.

“We are still continuing to observe safe travel protocols,” CS affirmed.

The performance Report focuses on the number of international arrivals by points of entry, purposes of visit, nationalities and gender.

Of the 305,635 arrivals, 94,241 came to visit family and friends, 92,828 for Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE) purposes, 87,629 for holiday, 15,811 were on transit, 8,637 for education, 3,592 for medical purposes, 1,722 for religious purposes, and 1,175 for sports.

Out of the total number of arrivals, the Report indicates that 209,632 were male while female was 96,003.

On Monthly basis and according to gender, the data Report says that in January, 40,003 Males compared to 19, 684 females visited, in February there were 31,567 males while female were 14, 397.

In March there were 35,880 Male and 16,171 female, in April 28, 662 males and 11,521 females, in May 32,678 and 13,464 females while in June, 40,842 male and 20,766 female visited.

The CS said that the top five (5) source markets are USA (49,178), Uganda (31,418), Tanzania (31,291), China (18,069), and United Kingdom (16,264).

The major points of entry in terms of air transport are Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (218,992) that is 71.65 per cent, Moi International Airport, Mombasa (16,054), 5.25 per cent, Wilson Airport (1,305) 0.43 per cent while other points of entry constituted 69,284 arrivals at 22.67 per cent.

According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) (2020) Report on Covid- 19 related travel restrictions, by 20th April, 2020, all worldwide destinations had introduced travel restrictions in response to the pandemic.

About 45 per cent of the world’s destinations totally or partially closed their borders for tourists, 30 per cent suspended totally or partially international flights, and a further 18 per cent banned entry for passengers from specific countries of origin and the overall result of all these travel restrictions was total disruption and paralysis of the international travel and tourism industry worldwide.

By Wangari Ndirangu

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