Travel and tourism in Kenya grew faster than the regional average and significantly above other economies in Sub-Saharan Africa, according to new research by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC).
In 2018, the sector grew 5.6 per cent to contribute Sh790 billion and 1.1 million jobs to the Kenyan economy.
The rate was faster than the global average of 3.9 per cent and the Sub-Saharan Africa average of 3.3 per cent.
This makes Kenya the third largest tourism economy in Sub-Saharan Africa after South Africa and Nigeria, both of which grew substantially less in 2018.
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In total, international tourists spent more than Sh157 billion in Kenya last year, accounting for over 15 per cent of total exports.
The largest inbound international markets were the USA (11 per cent), UK (nine per cent), India (six per cent), and China and Germany at four per cent.
Combined with domestic spending, travel and tourism supported 8.8 per cent of the nation’s gross domestic product in 2018.
The WTTC, which represents the industry’s global private sector, has produced the authoritative research on the economic contribution of the sector for more than 25 years.
Speaking in Nairobi, WTTC President Gloria Guevara said Africa was one of the great success stories of global travel as the second fastest growing region in the world. She said Kenya lay at the heart of the region as a popular and renowned destination that had seen huge growth in tourism activity and value over the past year.
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“I would like to particularly acknowledge the vision of President Uhuru Kenyatta and his commitment to travel and tourism as a means of driving economic growth and alleviating poverty,” she said.
The Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife must be congratulated for growing tourism at a rate above the global and regional average and for attracting more than 2 million international visitors for the first time in 2018.”
Tourism CS Najib Balala expressed his satisfaction on the overall achievement of the key sector that contributes significantly to the economy.