Tourism earnings surge as tourist numbers improve

Friday, January 10th, 2020 17:51 |
Tourism Cabinet secretary Najib Balala. Photo/KENNA CLAUDE

International tourism arrivals earned Kenya Sh163.5 billion in 2019, a 3.9 per cent growth from the 2018 earnings when the country earned Sh157.3 billion, Cabinet Secretary Tourism and Wildlife Najib Balala has said.

Balala, who this morning at the Serena Hotel released the 2019 country’s tourism sector performance report said the growth was driven by 2,048,834 arrivals representing a 1.2 per cent increment from that recorded in 2018 when 2,025,206 visitors toured Kenya.

Balala, who was flanked by acting treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani among other dignitaries, attributed the modest growth in international arrivals to the Dusit2 terrorism attack early in 2018 that affected the sector, low budgetary allocation to the sector and global slowdown tourism.

The US, Uganda, Tanzania and the UK were the top four sources markets, contributing 245,437, 223,010, 193, 740 and 181,484 respectively.

“Although the overall growth was marginal, some key markets recorded substantial growth amongst them France, the USA, Spain and China,” said Balala, with the two major entry points of Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) and Moi International Airport (MIA) receiving 1,423,971 and 128,222 tourists respectively.

Balala said key drivers that sustained the positive performance for the sector included growth in aviation, political stability, a stable security situation, ease of doing business and investor confidence as well as the marketing efforts carried out by the ministry and its agencies.

During the period under review, a number of scheduled and charter airlines notably Air France, Qatar Airways, and Ethiopia Airlines; TUI, and Neos increased their frequencies to JKIA and MIA, while the commencement of KQ’s direct flights to New York in October 2018 helped to shore up the numbers.

He said over the last four years, the government has invested Sh4.6 billion in the ministry and its agencies, helping the sector in return to generate Sh411 billion in revenues to the exchequer.

“This money is not consumed by the ministry but goes to the education, health and infrastructure sector among others to support Wanjiku (common person) on the ground,” said Balala.

On the domestic front, the CS said the sector, tracked by bed nights rose 10.4 per cent recording 4,955,800 bed nights in 2019 against 4,489,000 recorded in 2018.

Of the arrivals, 63.15 per cent came for holiday, 13.5 per cent for business, 12.75 per cent for medical, education and shopping while 10.6 per cent visited family and friends.

Africa and Indian Ocean, Europe and Asia topped in terms of region rankings at 823,990, 584,434 and 270,205 respectively.

More on Economy and Policy