The gods finally smiled on Kenya in 2018 as a record number of tourists visited the country

Traditional dancers entertain travellers at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport upon arrival aboard a Kenya Airways aircraft from New York in 2018.
  • The country’s 2018 tourist arrivals grew by 37.33 percent from the previous year to cross the two million mark for the first time.
  • United States remained Kenya’s leading market, growing by 11.12 per cent with 225,157 arrivals.
  • Domestic tourism also registered some growth and a total of 3.9 million bed nights were taken up by Kenyans last year compared with 3.6 million in 2017.

A record number of tourists visited Kenya last year after years of slow growth.

The country’s 2018 tourist arrivals grew by 37.33 percent from the previous year to cross the two million mark for the first time.

The surge in tourist’s numbers saw significant growth in earnings to Sh157 billion, a 31.2 percent improvement from the Sh119 billion earned in 2017, according to Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala.

The gains of the sector were as a result of coordinated efforts between various arms of government, whom the tourism sector has engaged, as well as the concerted efforts in marketing Kenya as a destination of choice,” Mr Balala said, while releasing the tourism data at State House, Mombasa.

The latest statistics show there were 2,025,206 tourists arriving compared with 1,474,671 international arrivals in the previous year.

In terms of specific tourist demographics, the United States remained Kenya’s leading market, growing by 11.12 per cent with 225,157 arrivals.

Tanzania was second with a 10.48 per cent share of the arrivals at 212,216 tourists. Uganda was third with a share of 10.08 per cent at 204,082 arrivals.

Other top markets were India, China, Germany, Italy and South Africa.

Domestic tourism also registered some growth and a total of 3.9 million bed nights were taken up by Kenyans last year compared with 3.6 million in 2017, Mr Balala divulged.

Domestic bed night for the year 2018 were estimated at 3,974,243, a 9.03 per cent increase compared to 2017 data of 3, 645, 243,” he said.

The Tourism minister attributed the gains made by the sector to coordinated efforts between various arms of government, marketing of Kenya as a destination of choice among other strategies.

“We engaged various government departments, concerted efforts in marketing Kenya as a destination of choice. Investment of the recovery funding has also helped in growing the sector,” he elaborated.

Kenya was also a beneficiary of unfortunate incidents which occurred in North Africa which registered decline in tourism in the wake of Arab Spring.

“The Arab Spring has affected them badly as well as areas like India and Thailand which have their own issues,"

Favorable climatic conditions also favoured Kenya.

"Both Florida and Caribbean areas with the weather patterns changing, it has affected and people are now moving to Africa,” Mr. Balala elaborated during a press conference at English Point Marina in Mombasa on Sunday.

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