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Tourism defies tough year to post impressive numbers

By Patrick Alushula | Published Fri, April 27th 2018 at 00:00, Updated April 26th 2018 at 20:04 GMT +3
Some of the more than nine hundred tourists who arrived in Mombasa on board MV Insignia cruise ship at the port of Mombasa from Zanzibar. [Gideon Maundu/Standard]

The tourism sector shrugged off election uncertainties and negative travel advisories to post increased earnings.

This was supported by more international arrivals in 2017.

Data released by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) on Wednesday shows that tourism earnings rose by 20.3 per cent last year to Sh119.9 billion from previous year’s Sh99.7 billion.

The rise is attributed to the increase in the number of international visitor arrivals by 8.1 per cent to 1.45 million from 1.33 million in the previous year.

This is the highest number in four years. In 2013, it was at 1.52 million.

“Improved performance of the sector was supported by enhanced security and aggressive promotion in the domestic and international market,” said KNBS Managing Director Zachary Mwangi.

The second and third quarters experienced more pronounced growth in arrivals, shrugging off the political uncertainties experienced during the period.

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 Business and transit

However, visitors who came for holiday, business and transit recorded a decline during these two quarters.

Overall, 68.4 per cent of visitors came for holiday followed by 13.7 per cent who came for business.

Tourists who arrived through Moi International Airport (MIA) grew by eight per cent to 100,300 while arrivals via Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) expanded by 10.6 per cent to 864,000.

“Generally, analysis revealed that arrivals in the two international airports were higher in most months of 2017 compared to 2016,” noted KNBS data.

The best months for international arrivals through MIA were January (11,500 visitors), August (10,700) September (9,100), November (11,000) and December with 15,100 visitors.

Arrivals via JKIA were above 62,000 from January to May before hitting a high of 98,000 in July.

That eased to 61,600 in November before rising to 90,700 in December.

Hotel owners benefited as bed-nights occupancy increased by 11.3 per cent from 6.45 million in 2016 to 7.17 million during the year under review.

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