Domestic tourism recorded significant growth, survey shows

Wednesday, April 29th, 2020 00:00 |
Tourists disembark from a cruise ship in Mombasa. Domestic tourism recorded growth in 2019. Photo/PD/File

Reuben Mwambingu @reubenmwambingu

Kenya’s domestic tourism recorded significant growth last year according to latest figures released by Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) in this year’s Economic Survey report.

 The report  indicates that tourism earnings grew by 3.9 per cent from Sh157.4 billion in 2018 to Sh163.6 billion in 2019.

The report attributes positive performance to general political stability in the country last year as well as improved infrastructure to and around tourism hotspots as well as extensive promotion and opportunities for early bookings.

While hotel bed night occupancy expanded by 6.3 per cent within the same period, the North Coast was more preferred destination compared to the South Coast in 2019.

Bed-night occupancy in the North Coast rose by 27.8 per cent from 1.4 million in 2018 to 1.7 million in 2019.

Occupancy within Mombasa Island improved by 6.5 per cent from 266.6 thousand bed-nights in 2018 to 283.9 thousand bed-nights in 2019.

However, bed-night occupancy in the South Coast declined by 10.4 per cent from 1.8 million in 2018 to 1.6 million in 2019. Similarly, bed-night occupancy in Kilifi, Malindi and Lamu decreased by 16.3 per cent during the review period.

This is even as the number of international and local conferences held rose by 6.9 per cent and 14.4 per cent to 218 and 4,743 respectively, in 2019.

But there was also a slight decline in tourist arrivals from some regions in Europe which was attributed to global economic slowdown, trade tensions and rising geopolitical challenges, and the prolonged uncertainty about Brexit and lower business confidence that weighed on growth in international tourism.

This, however, did not impact negatively on international arrivals whose numbers went up by 0.4 per cent, a slower growth compared to a 14.0 per cent rise in 2018.

Aviation sector

“Notable improvements in aviation sector during the year included direct flights from Nairobi to New York, Air France making a comeback and increasing flights from three to five times a week and the introduction of Doha-Mombasa flights by Qatar Airways,” states the new economic survey which also noted slight decline in the number of visitors to museums, snake parks and historical sites by 1.6 per cent.

According to the survey, the international tourists who arrived through Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) grew by 1.9 per cent from 1.4 million in 2018 to 1.43 million in 2019.

Tourist arrivals through Mombasa International Airport (MIA) however, contracted by 17.3 per cent from 138,000 thousand in 2018 to 114,000 in 2019.

The Economic survey 2020 states that the number of visitors to national parks and game reserves also  grew by 3.7 per cent to 2.97 million, while the number of visitors to museums, snake parks and historical sites declined slightly by 1.6 per cent.

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