Now Kenya overtakes America as leading source market for visitors to Tanzania

Tuesday January 02 2018

Tourists in Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park. The country is a popular tourist destination as it is home to Africa’s tallest mountain, Mt Kilimanjaro and the Ngorongoro Crater. FILE PHOTO | NATION


The number of Kenyans visiting Tanzania has increased, surpassing the US as the largest source market for the country in 2015.

Data from Tanzania’s Immigration Services Department released in October revealed a “notable increase” in the number of visitors from Kenya, at 233,730 — an increase of 36,000 from the 2015 figures.

In 2016, 86,860 Americans visited Tanzania, followed by 69,876 Indians and 67,642 Britons.

Tanzania is a popular tourist destination as it is home to Africa’s tallest mountain, Mt Kilimanjaro, Serengeti National Park, where the famed annual migration of wildebeest takes place, and the Ngorongoro Crater.

Kenyans went to Tanzania for meetings and conferences, business and to visit friends and relatives, in that order.

“The majority of visitors from the top source markets to Tanzania who came for leisure and holidays were from the US, the UK, Italy and Germany,” reads International Visitors’ Exit Survey Report.


Foreign exchange

This means that although Kenya had the largest number of visitors to Tanzania, the European countries brought more foreign exchange earnings.

Visitors from China had the highest average expenditure of $541 per person per night. Visitors from Burundi and Zambia had minimal average expenditures of less than $100 per person per night, including accommodation.

“Tourists who came to visit friends and relatives were mainly from Kenya and the UK. Visitors from Zambia and Zimbabwe mostly came for business,” notes the report.

Uganda and Burundi were new entrants on the list of the top source markets for Tanzania, which was attributed to proximity and increasing business interactions. The two countries replaced the Netherlands and Switzerland.

Ugandans visiting Kenya

Ugandans form the bulk of people from East Africa visiting Kenya, with the Kenya Tourism Board’s latest data showing the visitors from there almost doubled to 51,023 for the year ended 2016, from 29,038 in 2015.

KTB attributed the growth to the provision of interstate passes — the East Africa visa, which has enabled cross-border tourism for expatriates working in Uganda.

The move has also enabled travellers wishing to explore countries in the region in a single regional tour move with ease.

The US replaced the UK as Kenya’s top source market for tourists, registering 97,883 arrivals in 2016 compared with UK’s 96,404.

According to KTB, the US growth is due to “aggressive marketing of the country as a safari destination” while the UK did not restore Kenya-bound charter flights even after the lifting of travel advisories to Kenya.

India made a surprising entry to become the third largest tourist market for Kenya with 64,116 arrivals last year, an increase of over 15,000 visitors compared to 2015.

Tanzania market

In Tanzania, India also displaced the UK in the third position of visitors to the country. The shift in the position of India was largely attributed to an Indian community celebration — Dawoodi Bohra’s Milad-un-Nabi, that took place in Dar es Salaam in October 2016.

Tanzania also introduced aggressive global e-marketing campaign for their destinations by developing an official Tanzania Tourism App, which gives an overview of what the country offers as unique tourist destination, things to do, accommodation, and how to plan a trip.

In Kenya, China is also rising against the country’s traditional visitors such as Germany and Italy, attributed to an increased number of direct and indirect flights servicing the two countries.

Tourist numbers to Burundi have plunged due to the country’s recent political unrest as well as poor tourism infrastructure as the options for transport and accommodation for tourists are limited.

Data shows visitors to Burundi in 2015 were 131,000, down from 235,000 the previous year.

Data from Trade Mark East Africa shows that Rwanda had a total of 3.6 million bed nights in 2016, taken up by Kenyans compared with 3.1 million in 2015.

Uganda occupies second top source market for Rwanda with about 260,000 Ugandans visiting the country annually.

Kenya is at fifth top position in arrivals to Rwanda, with about 65,000 visiting the country annually. East Africa now represents 44 per cent of arrivals to Rwanda and 38 per cent of revenues.

Kenya is a key source market for travellers to Uganda, accounting for over 48 per cent, followed by Rwanda at 35.3 per cent, Tanzania at 11.2 per cent and Burundi at 5.4 per cent. This is mainly attributed to education, entertainment and visiting friends and family.