Published on : Wednesday, June 8, 2016
Total international arrivals between January and April were 263,284 compared to 231,038 in the same period in 2015.
Tourism Cabinet secretary Najib Balala yesterday attributed the growth to aggressive marketing, which has helped restore confidence among key international markets.
“The government has invested heavily in security. Since the Garissa attack on April 2 last year, no other incident has happened. We are optimistic 2016 will be a good year,” Balala said.
During the period under review, Jomo Kenyatta International Airport recorded 13.6 per cent more visitors totaling 229,594, compared to 202,071 in 2015. Mombasa’s Moi International Airport had 31,810 visitors from 28,967, a 9.8 per cent growth. Arrival by sea (cruise ship) were 1,880.
Balala, however, warned that the ongoing anti-IEBC protests are threatening the sector’s recovery, which could rebound fully by 2018 in a peaceful environment.
“The last two weeks we have sent shivers to the markets. All the efforts I have done to reassure people that Kenya is safe are going to waste. Political instability and lack of understanding is going to kill our industry,” Balala said.
“If we continue with images of tyres burning, people getting shot, it is not going to be good for our economy. We can decide and behave well or misbehave in the name of democracy and lose,” he added.
The government has been on a charm offensive to win back international markets which dropped as a result of insecurity, mainly caused by al Shabaab terror group. Balala said the ministry will invest heavily in traditional markets among them the UK, the US and India to grow numbers. The ministry has been allocated Sh4 billion in the 2016-17 budget. “This year we have the best budget,” The CS said.
KTB acting CEO Jacinta Nzioka said the marketing body is working with tour operators and airlines to market the country.
International arrivals dropped last year to 1.18 million from 1.35 million in 2014, a 12.6 per cent contraction. Tourism earnings decreased to Sh84.6 million last year from Sh87.1 billion in 2014, the Economic Survey 2016 shows. The number of visitors to Kenya was 1.5 million in 2013, 1.7 million in 2012, and 1.8 million in 2011.