Kenya's tourism earnings grow to $1.6b as 2019 arrivals stay above 2m

Friday January 10 2020

Tourists stroll along a sandy beach in Diani, Kwale County.

Tourists stroll along a sandy beach in Diani, Kwale County. 2,048,834 foreign tourists visited Kenya in 2019 compared with 2,025,206 international arrivals in 2018. PHOTO | WACHIRA MWANGI | NMG 

PATRICK ALUSHULA
By PATRICK ALUSHULA
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Kenya’s tourism earnings grew by 3.9 percent to Ksh163.6 billion ($1.6 billion) as arrivals defied terror threats and global geopolitics to remain above the two-million mark last year.

The earnings improved from the Ksh157.4 billion ($1.6 billion) in 2018 but represents a slower growth compared to the previous year.

In 2018, earnings increased by 37.33 per cent as international tourist arrivals crossed the two-million mark for the first time in history.

The latest statistics, released by Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala in Nairobi on Friday, show there were 2,048,834 foreign visitors compared with 2,025,206 international arrivals in 2018.

Arrivals through Jomo Kenyatta International Airport were 1.42 million or 70 per cent of total arrivals followed by Moi International Airport with 128,222.

The slowed growth in earnings came in the period as only eight out of the top 20 source markets posted a growth in tourist numbers.

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“The year started with the dusitD2 attack (January 15) and that had an impact to the growth. But it is a resilient performance,” Mr Balala said.

“We need to up our game to ensure the sector is vibrant and doesn’t live in the past glory but manifests itself for the future.”

The United States remained Kenya’s leading market, growing by nine per cent with 245,437 arrivals.

Arrivals from Uganda jumped 5.1 percent to 223,010 leapfrogging Tanzania to the second position. Tanzania, which has had several diplomatic tiffs with Kenya, saw arrivals fall by the same percentage to 193,740.

Other top growing markets were France, China, Rwanda, South Sudan, Burundi, Austria, and Spain.

However, tourist numbers from United Kingdom, India, Germany, Italy and South Africa all dipped as so did those from Canada, Ethiopia, Netherlands, Nigeria and Somalia.

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