Kenya’s tourism sector recorded a double-digit rise in earnings in 2017 to record just under KSh. 120 billion in revenue receipts. This denotes a 20.3 percent growth in review compared to 2016 when the tourism sector earned KSh. 99.69 billion.
The strong growth in tourism receipts was underpinned by a 9.8 percent growth in total international arrivals into Kenya by air, sea, and cross-border. In 2017, 1,474,671 arrivals came into Kenya while 2016 recorded 1,342,899 arrivals.
The increase in arrivals to Kenya outpaced the estimated global growth in tourism numbers, according to the latest United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) World Tourism report. The report indicated that international tourist arrivals (overnight visitors) worldwide increased by 7 percent to reach a total of 1.32 billion in 2017.
Releasing statistics on the performance of Kenya’s tourism industry in 2017, Tourism and Wildlife Cabinet Secretary, Najib Balala has said most of Kenya’s source markets recorded impressive growth in 2017.
The United States of America (USA) remained Kenya’s leading source market, growing by 17 percent to top 114,507 arrivals. The U.S. market contributed 11.8 percent of arrivals. It was followed by the United Kingdom with an 11.1 percent share of arrivals, which also grew by 11.1 percent to 107,078 arrivals. Uganda came in third with a share of 6.4 percent, closely followed by India with a contribution of 6.2 percent. China closed the list of the top five performers with a share of 5.5 percent contribution to the total arrivals in 2017.
Tourism CS. Balala said, “Kenya grew stronger in 2017 as a destination brand following positive visibility and endorsement it received through global accolades such as the World Travel Awards’ declaration of Kenya as the world’s best safari destination. This was achieved despite a busy electioneering season that threatened to slow down tourism activities.”
In terms of share of arrivals by region, Europe contributed 36 percent of arrivals, followed by Africa at 29 percent, the Americas at 15 percent, Asia at 15 percent, the Middle East at 3 percent, and Oceania (which includes Australia) at 2 percent.
In 2017, Uganda topped the list of Kenya’s top source markets in Africa, growing by 20.6 percent to 61,542 arrivals. It was followed by South Africa, which grew by 9.8 percent to record 39,441 arrivals. Additionally, the arrivals from Tanzania increased to 21,110 recording a 21.8 percent growth.
On the domestic front, a total of 4.05 million bed nights were taken up by Kenyans in 2017 compared to 3.5 million in 2016, denoting a 15.9 percent growth. The growth has been credited to increased investment by the Government in promoting domestic tourism through awareness campaigns that sensitized Kenyans on attractions, destinations, and experiences in Kenya.