By Obiero Conrad
Kenya registered a 53.29 % growth in the number of international visitor arrivals in Kenya in 2021 that stood at 870,465, as compared to 567,848 in 2020 according to data released today by the Tourism Research Institute.
Performance was undermined by the upsurge of the Delta variant of Covid-19 during the first quarter but registered steady growth from June to December.
This is an indication of a steadily growing trust for the Magical Kenya destination, which can be credited to renewed marketing efforts as well as confidence on the country’s efforts to contain the spread of Covid-19.
The growth was also supported by innovative products offered to both domestic and international markets by major players mainly hotels and domestic airlines. Hosting of major sporting events specifically the WRC – Safari Rally and the World Athletics under 20 also helped a lot to rebuild confidence on destination Kenya.
“The 34.76% increase translated to Ksh. 146 billion ($ 1.46 billion) in revenue, as compared to Ksh. 88 billion ($885 million) in 2020, indicating that we are on an upward trajectory. The numbers are still low, but we are optimistic that we will eventually go back to our all-time high international visitor arrivals that is 2019, or even surpass it.
This is because majority of our masses are vaccinated and international visitors will have faith in our destination again,” said CS Balala.
Out of the 870,465 international arrivals, 299,802 (34.44%) were on holiday, 257,357 (29.57%) visiting family or friends, 229,804 for business and Meetings, Incentives, Exhibitions, and Conferences (MICE)- 26.40%, 46,654 (5.36%) on transit, 19,053 (2.19%) for education, 8,737 (1%) for medical purposes, 7,010 (0.81%) for religion, and 2,048 (0.24%) for sports.
The top 5 international arrivals by country are, USA (136,981), Uganda (80,067), Tanzania (74,051), UK (53,264), and India (42,159).
Jomo Kenyatta International Airport remains the major point of entry with 644,194, Moi International Airport 48,749, and others 177,522.
In January to September 2021, the bed occupancy rates increased to a total of 4,138,821 as compared to the same period in 2020 (2,575,812) recording a recovery of 60.7%.
This sustained recovery of the hospitality sector was largely supported by domestic travellers (domestic bed nights grew by 101.3% while international bed nights grew by 0.05%).
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