MOMBASA, KENYA: Tourism and Wildlife Cabinet Secretary, Mr Najib Balala has described 2018 as a turning point for Kenyan tourism performance after years of under-performing.
In a statement issued on the sidelines of the ongoing International Tourism Bourse (ITB) in Berlin, Germany, where a record 40 Kenyan firms are exhibiting, Balala said that the country received 2,025,206 international tourists into Kenya.
He said that this was a marked growth of 37.33 per cent compared to 2017, which closed at 1,474,671 international arrivals.
''Our revenue receipt for 2018 was Sh157,386,151,000, a 31.2 per cent growth compared to 2017 receipts of Sh119,900,000,000 to record the highest earnings,'' the CS said..
Balala said that bed nights for domestic tourism in the year 2018 were estimated at 3,974,243. This was 9.03 per cent increase compared to 2017 data of 3,645,243.
The CS said that based on current tourism trends, economic prospect and the UNWTO Confidence Index, UNWTO forecasts international tourist arrivals to grow 3 per cent to 4 per cent in 2019.
This is comparable to the 2008-2018 average of 4.2 per cent per year, though below the 5.6 per cent increase in 2018.
''The projection for Africa is 3 per cent to 5 per cent growth in 2019, after 7 per cent last year, as some destinations consolidate their rebound. By region, experts from Africa are the most optimistic about 2019, as a number of destinations in the region continue their recovery,'' Balala said.
He told the international trade audience that the government has identified key priority areas to grow tourism that include infrastructure development, investment in the sector, marketing and product diversification.
''We as a country are expanding our bucket list of known products (Beach and wildlife) by introducing and packaging other experiential products such as battle field tourism, extreme sports, adventure, cultures, desert and culinary tourism among others,'' he said.
He said that President Uhuru Kenyatta's government has come up with incentives to support the tourism sector like Visa fee waiver for children below 16 years.
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