Kenya's Tourism Arrivals Up By 15 Percent

Tourist arrivals for first quarter 2011 grew by 15 per cent due to economic recovery in key European markets and growth in new markets, the Ministry of  Tourism has said.

Statistics released yesterday by Tourism Minister Najib Balala places arrivals at 313,691 between January to March 2011 up from 272,424 recorded over the same period last year. “There was growth in traditional markets of UK, Italy, US and Germany while only France was still on the decline with a drop of 10 per cent,” commented Balala.
He cited the slow pace of economic recovery in France after the 2008-2009 global economic crisis as the reason for low arrivals of French tourists.

Top five source market positions were held by UK with 42,638 tourists, a 10 per cent rise, Italy 39,233 representing 22 per cent growth, US 23,929 a six per cent increase and Germany 20,426 translating to 11 per cent increment. Data on local tourism was unavailable, a situation Balala blamed on lack of cooperation and proper record keeping by most local hotels.
He said it would soon be mandatory for hotels to collect data on local tourism to help the government effectively develope the market segment. Uganda topped the arrivals from African markets with 13,517 arrivals over the period while South Africa was second with 7,368 visitors.

In emerging markets, China registered a 34 per cent growth with 7970 arrivals while United Arab Emirates brought in 3912 visitors, a growth of 40 per cent.

The Minister said he expects arrival numbers to grow despite rising inflation locally and high cost of fuel on the global front. He projected 20 percent a growth in full year arrival numbers compared to last year.

This, the minister said, will be driven by planned entry into the Kenyan hotel industry of international brand names like Best Western and Accor hotels among others. “These brands add to the international interest of tourists,” he explained.

In 2010, Kenya made a profit of 73.5 billion from tourism and recorded 1.6 million in tourist arrivals for the year. Value added growth for tourism sector was at 17.9 per cent compared to 5.9 and 4.4 per cent for transport and communications, and manufacturing sectors respectively. Agriculture, the biggest sector of the economy grew at 6.3 per cent.

Locally, marketing efforts will focus on showing what tourism activities could be done at low costs to sustain domestic tourist numbers amid high cost of living.