Kenya eyes 1.2 million tourists

Kenya’s tourism sector seems to be on the recovery path following the 2007 post election violence and global recession which threatened to bring the sector to its knees.

According to the tourism arrivals and earnings results released by the Kenya Tourist Board (KTB), Kenya received 701,691 tourists in the period between January and August 2010. This is 14% higher than the arrivals posted last year.

Tourism earnings have also risen by nearly 85% to stand at approximately Ksh.48.5 billion (US$600 million) for the period between January and June.

The minister for tourism, Najib Balala, has projected that tourism earnings will hit Ksh.100 billion ($1.2 billion) by the end of the year. The ministry is also projecting that arrivals will reach 1.2 million. Balala says this will be the best year for the industry.

“We are experiencing an average 17% monthly growth in tourism arrivals compared to 2007 and therefore project the tourist arrivals to hit the 1.2 million mark by the end of the year. These figures exclude cross-border travel, Kenyans [living abroad] returning home and foreign experts working in the county. The statistics are based on the arrivals at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (Nairobi), Moi International Airport (Mombasa) and the port of Mombasa,” he said.

The minister attributed the tourism boom to an aggressive marketing campaign that targeted emerging markets such as eastern Europe, China, India and Africa.

“The establishment of new market development representatives in selected countries, and increased optimism following the peaceful referendum in August have also boosted the tourist arrivals,” said Balala.