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Tourism growth in Kenya exceeded global and regional levels in 2018

By Philip Mwakio | March 13th 2019
Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala at a past function.

Travel and Tourism in Kenya grew faster than the regional average and significantly above other economies in Sub-Saharan Africa, according to new research from the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC).

In 2018, Travel and Tourism grew 5.6 percent to contribute Sh790 billion and 1.1 million jobs to the Kenyan economy.

This rate of growth is faster than the global average of 3.9 percent and the Sub-Saharan Africa average of 3.3 percent.

This makes Kenya the third largest tourism economy in Sub-Saharan Africa after South Africa and Nigeria both of which grew substantially less than Kenya in 2018.

In total, international tourists spent over Sh157 billion in Kenya last year, accounting for over 15% of total exports.

The largest inbound international markets were the USA (11 percent); UK (9 percent); India (6 percent); China (4 percent); and Germany (4 percent). Combined with domestic spending, Travel & Tourism supported 8.8 percent of the nation’s GDP in 2018.

For over 25 years, the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), which represents the global private sector of Travel & Tourism, has produced the authoritative research on the economic contribution of the sector.

This year’s research shows that Travel & Tourism in Kenya grew at 5.6 percent last year – ahead of the global average of 3.9 percent.

This contributed 8.8 percent to Kenya’s GDP, worth sSh790 billion (or US$7.9 billion dollars) when all direct, indirect and induced effects are taken into consideration.

Travel & Tourism is responsible for 8.3 percent of all Kenya’s employment, or 1.1 million jobs and GDP contribution is projected to grow by 5.9 percent in 2019

Speaking in Nairobi, Kenya, WTTC President & CEO Gloria Guevara said, “Africa is one of the great success stories of global travel as the second fastest growing region in the world – and Kenya lies at the heart of the region, a popular and renowned destination that has seen huge growth in tourism activity and value over the past year.”

“I would like to particularly acknowledge the vision of President Uhuru Kenyatta and his commitment to Travel & Tourism as a means of driving economic growth and alleviating poverty. The Ministry of Tourism & Wildlife, under the leadership of Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala, must be congratulated for growing tourism at a rate above the global and regional average and for attracting over two million international visitors for the first time in 2018,'' she said.

Speaking at the event, Balala elaborated on the gains of the sector and expressed his satisfaction on the overall achievement of this key sector that contributes substantively to the economy.

“The gains of the sector are as a result of co-ordinated efforts between various arms of government, whom the tourism sector has engaged, as well as the concerted efforts in marketing Kenya as a destination of choice,” CS Balala pointed out.

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