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Tourism bounces back on account of increased security

By Macharia Kamau | Published Thu, April 20th 2017 at 08:41, Updated April 20th 2017 at 08:45 GMT +3

After five years of a steady decline, things are now looking up for the tourism sector.

Industry earnings and arrivals went up last year for the first time since 2012, an indication that the sector, one of the key sources of foreign exchange for Kenya, is finally on recovery mode.

According to the Kenya Economic Survey 2017, industry earnings went up by 17.8 per cent to Sh99.7 billion in 2016 from Sh84.6 billion in the previous year. The number of tourist arrivals went up by 13.5 per cent to 1.34 million in 2016 from 1.18 million in 2015.

"The sector's rebound was partly due to improvement in security and successful high-profile conferences. In addition, the sector benefited from aggressive marketing in domestic and international markets," said Zachary Mwangi, Kenya National Bureau of Statistics Director General - when he released the Economic Survey.

The country remains largely a holiday destination, with 71.9 per cent (962,600) of visitors to Kenya coming for holidaying purposes.

While there have been efforts to promote business tourism, this is yet to catch on with 13.4 per cent or 180,000 found to have visited Kenya for business while 5.3 per cent were on transit to other destinations.

The United Kingdom remains the largest tourist source market with 166,000 visitors to Kenya despite a slight decline from 177,000 in 2015. Second is the US with 144,000 then Germany with 95,000).

Uganda and Tanzania were the largest source of tourists from Africa, jointly accounting for 88,000 visitors.