Uganda and Tanzania continue to be Kenyas major tourist source markets after the US.

According to the latest data released by the Tourism Research Institute, last year Kenya received 870,465 tourists, up from 567,848 in 2020.

The US was the top source market for Kenya with 136,981 tourists, followed by Uganda with 80,067, Tanzania with 74,051, and the UK and India accounted for 53,264 tourists and 42,159 respectively.

Kenyas tourism sector registered a 53.29 percent growth in 2021, following the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions.

There was a 34.76 percent increase in revenue which translated to $1.46 billion, from $885 million in 2020.

Holiday makers were the majority arrivals at 299,802, accounting for 34.44 percent of all arrivals, followed by those visiting family at 257,357 (29.57 percent).

Business travellers were 229,804, with 46,654 (5.36 percent) on transit.

Some 19,053 visitors (2.19 percent) came to Kenya for education purposes, and one percent for medical reasons.

Kenyas Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala said the arrivals were boosted by holding of the WRCs Safari Rally and the World Athletics Under-20 in the country.

StrategyWe have a strategy for future growth and one of the points is to ensure we expand and modernise Kenyas aviation industry, which is key for international arrivals, said Mr Balala.

He also credited the growth on renewed marketing efforts, measures to contain the Covid-19 pandemic and innovative products offered to domestic and international markets by hotels and airlines.

Jomo Kenyatta International Airport remains the major point of entry with 644,194 tourists, Mombasas Moi International Airport had 48,749, and other entry points contributed to 177,522 visitors.

In January to September 2021, the bed occupancy rates increased to a total of 4,138,821 as compared to the same period in 2020 (2,575,812) recording a recovery of 60.7 percent.

Covid-19 caused a greater impact to the tourism sector with the industry recording about 1.18 million job losses with about $1.52 billion labour income loss.

Of the 1.18 million jobs lost, 295,000 served in the accommodation department, 162,000 (food and beverage), 216,000 (passenger transport), 24,000 (attraction sites) and 486,000 (artifacts).

CS Balala attributed the loss to low occupancy, canceled trips and disruptions to foreign and local travel which saw several hotels go out of business.

This sustained recovery of the hospitality sector was largely supported by Domestic Travellers with domestic bed nights grew by 101.3 percent while international bed nights grew by 0.05 percent.

The CS said the spread of the Delta variant suppressed growth in the tourism sector in the first quarter of 2021 however, there was steady growth from June to December 2021.

Mr Balala said the country is projecting to increase passenger flight landings from the current 59,486 in 2020 to 70,193 this year, visitors arrivals from 870,467 to 1.02 million tourists this year despite different challenges brought about by the August General Election.

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