Tourism in Kenya Facts and Information


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This is an episode on tourism in Kenya facts and figures. Tourism in Kenya has been one of the main foreign exchange earners for the country. Since independence, Kenya has been a great destination for both domestic and international tourists. Kenya is preferred purposely for safari-bound tourism amidst other tourist attractions in the country.

As a matter of fact, Kenya is known as the heart of African safaris. As home to over 60 game reserves and national parks, Kenya is a wildlife gallery that has made a name for itself. Apart from the wildlife, Kenya has a broad offering for its visitors ranging from historic to cultural attractions. A 500 km coastline that boasts of world-class beaches, and scenic views. Join me as we explore tourism in Kenya facts and figures

Tourism in Kenya facts and figures

Kenya is one of the most preferred and popular tourist destinations attracting several tourists from all over the world every year. Since independence, tourism was the main foreign exchange earner for Kenya but that changed in 2011. One of the world’s most brutal terrorist attacks on Westgate mall caught the attention of the world and tainted the tourism industry.

Related: Best Tourist Attractions in Kenya

The event was followed by the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa in 2014 which lead to fear even though Kenya is thousands of miles away from West Africa. These factors amidst other security concerns have led to the decline in the tourism industry in Kenya compared to yesteryears where tourism was the backbone of the country.

All the same, the county saw a 17% increase in the number of tourists since 2011. The regions that account for the highest numbers of tourists include UK, US, China, and India among other countries. Since 2015, the tourism industry is gradually gaining its momentum since the country has put in place security measures and incentive to promote tourism in Kenya. From 2015, the numbers have risen by 16.7% where visitors have increased from 752000 to over 890,000 as of early 2022.

The government has been instrumental in reinstating the tourism industry as one of the main revenue generators. One of the ways the government has done so is through the launch of the tourism recovery program that was aimed at marketing and improving the infrastructure to increase the volumes of local tourists and foreign visitors.

Structure of the Tourism Sector in Kenya

Kenyan tourism is overseen by the ministry of tourism and culture. The ministry is a branch of the umbrella ministry of East African Affairs, Commerce and Tourism. It was created in 2015 and was later granted the ministerial status.

Read Also: List of National Parks in Kenya

The ministry of Tourism currently overlooks the operations of tourism parastatal companies like the Bomas of Kenya, Utalii hotels and Utalii College, KICC, Tourism Fund, Kenya Tourism Board, Tourism Regulatory Authority among many others.

Since the ministry was created, Najib Balala has been the cabinet secretary for tourism for two terms in a row. He has been responsible for the assignment of roles, the creation of tourism policies and management of tourism products within his ministry.

Marketing & Lobbying

The Kenya Tourism Board has played a vital role in sustainable tourism in Kenya. The board has utilized its budget on several marketing campaigns locally and internationally. Some of the campaigns that were spearheaded by the board and became successful included the Tembea Kenya campaign that drew local tourists in numbers. The campaign did a great deal by bringing the local attractions to the attention of locals and foreigners.

High Alert

As much as tourism has been growing, a great deal of that comes from local tourism. International tourists have been declining gradually for the last five years because of some of the reasons stated earlier. The biggest challenges in the years leading up to 2015 were related to health and safety issues in the country and region as a whole.

What is Kenya Known For? Find out!

Indeed, the KNBS attributed the sector’s subdued performance to perceived security threats and the impact that travel advisories issued by major Western markets had on the sector, including those from the US and the UK.

Coastal regions of the country were hard hit by a spate of travel advisories, which included Mombasa’s Moi International Airport (MIA); a number of charter flights suspended service to the city as a result of these warnings.

Europe as a source of Tourists

For a long time, Europe has been producing the most tourists who visit Kenya. Tourists from Europe account for 35% of the total foreign tourists that visit the country. As of 2022, KTB reported that air arrivals of Europeans stood at 303,912, out of a total of 874,885.

This was an increase from 2015 when European arrivals stood at 277,663 out of 748,770 total arrivals. Visitors from the UK continue to make up the largest European source market for tourists to Kenya. The KTB reported 96,315 arrivals in 2016. 98,195 in 2015, and an 11%  increase in arrivals to the country that year.

Kenya Tourism Board has also noted the increase in the numbers of tourists from Italy and Sweden in particular. European and North American visitors stood at a combined 650,300 in 2015, according to KNBS data. These two markets are a critical priority for the Kenyan government.

Local and regional tourism

When foreign tourism was dwindling, the industry was saved by local and regional tourists. They showed up in numbers to savor the industry. As of 2016, the number of local and African tourists visiting Kenya reached the 251626 mark according to data derived from KTB. This as a 35% rise from the numbers registered in the previous year.

Rising arrivals from the African continent have helped the industry offset some of its losses from traditional markets in Europe. Although the purchasing power of Kenyans is still limited, the tourism marketing campaign urged hotels to reduce their rates to accommodate local tourism. A move the attracted many middle-class Kenyans and has helped to sustain the tourism industry.

Number One

According to data derived from the KNBS, US overtook the UK as the single largest source of tourists in 2016 who visited Kenya. This was a much more impressive achievement because, by that time, there were no direct flights between the two countries. In 2022 however, the two countries are linked by a direct flight. It is expected to increase the number of tourists visiting Kenya from the US.

Direct flights to the US

According to the KTB, in 2016, 97,097 US tourists visited the country. A 16.4% increase over 2015, compared to 96,315 tourists from the UK. US tourism to Kenya is largely based around safari tourism, a segment the government has been looking to grow.

The increase in US tourists was spurred by the visit of high profile visitors to Kenya. They included the former US president and the Pope. That is tourism in Kenya figures and facts at a glance. For any clarifications kindly leave a comment.

Luya Editor
Luya Editor
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