Kenya Tourism Board Chairman, Jimi Kariuki, explained that the rise in tourist numbers in the country had been in part bolstered by international airlines that had increased flights to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi, and Moi International Airport in Mombasa between June and July.
He said: “Between July and August, many international wildlife lovers visited the Maasai Mara to catch a glimpse of the wildebeest migration spectacle, despite the electioneering period woes.” Kariuki added that tourism could have performed much better were it not for the political heat, adding that the country should create an enabling environment for tourism to thrive.
According to the UNWTO, Kenya received 1.3m tourists who spent Ksh100bn (€833m) last year, a 17% increase from the Ksh85bn (€708m) spent in 2015.
The UNWTO report noted that Kenya’s hospitality segment was set for brighter times, with room revenues projected to increase by 3.5% this year.
The same trend is expected to continue at an annual growth of 7.5% until 2021.
“Additional air services to Kenya, economic stability and rising demand in the domestic travel segment will spur an increase in guest nights. 2017 has validated the bullish optimism of hotel investors,” according to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics report.
“The strong performance means Kenya is on track to surpass the 1.3 million arrivals posted last year, which, in turn, represented a 10% rise on the 2015 total, when security concerns saw tourist numbers fall to 1.18 million,” said the report.
The rise in visitor numbers in the first nine months of the year brings hope to Kenya’s tourism sector amid a political stalemate over the October 26 repeat presidential election.
Although, Kenya’s Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission declared President Uhuru Kenyatta the winner of the presidential re-run, National Super Alliance presidential candidate, Raila Odinga, rejected the results.