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Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala (left), Narok Governor Samuel Tunai (second right) and other stakeholders follow proceedings during a breakfast meeting on the Tourism Satellite Account project hosted by the Tourism Research Institute in Nairobi yesterday. [Courtesy]
The number of tourist arrivals to Kenya in the first half of this year fell slightly by one per cent, new data shows.

According to data from the Tourism Research Institute released yesterday, the number of visitors to the country fell from 927,797 to 921,090 during the period under review.

Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala while releasing the results yesterday in Nairobi said the overall decline was largely attributed to a drop in tourist arrivals from some East African source market.

Tourist numbers from Tanzania, for instance, fell by 14 per cent from 107,411 to 92,340 as of June.

Arrivals from Uganda, on the other hand, rose marginally by three per cent from 99,459 to 103,177.

During the period under review, France emerged as Kenya’s top source market, posting a 17 per cent jump in tourist arrivals compared to a similar period last year while those from China rose by 0.6 per cent.

The US continued a strong showing, with tourist arrivals rising by nine per cent for the first six months of the year compared to a similar period last year, while arrivals from the UK fell by one per cent.

Arrivals from India also dropped by eight per cent. TRI said the growth of US arrivals indicated that the direct flights to New York launched last year were working.

CS Balala said the Government had developed strategies to increase the US arrivals as well as those from China, India and Russia, which have erstwhile been key source markets for the country.

“We want more numbers from India, China and the US. There has been a growth in central European markets such as France and Italy. We are also now developing a strategy for the Russian market and are optimistic about it,” he said.

Balala was speaking after a high-level meeting by tourism stakeholders to fast-track the progress of the Tourism Satellite Account (TSA) that has been in the pipeline for the last 10 years.

TSA is expected to establish the total contribution of tourism to the economy.

Balala ordered that it be completed in the next six months.

The TSA is also supposed to assess the value added by tourism activities in the economy, including the level of employment created by tourism activities in both national and county governments.

Majority of the tourists during the period under review (633,731) arrived via the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, a fall from 606,298 during a similar period last year.

TRI data showed that majority of the visitors were holidaymakers at 68 per cent followed by business persons at 18 per cent.

Another seven per cent were visiting family and friends the same as those who had come for other reasons such as medical, shopping, and education.

Narok Governor Samuel Tunai, whose county is a major beneficiary of tourism through the Masai Mara Game Reserve, urged other counties to allocate funds to boost tourism in their respective areas

Wainaina Wambu Tourism Research Institute Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala Tourist arrivals
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