USA edges out United Kingdom as Kenya's top tourist source market


Kenya registered 97,883 tourists from USA in last year compared to UK’s 96,404 for the same period according to Kenya Tourism Board statistics (KTB).

KTB attributes the United States growth to aggressive marketing by Kenya as the top safari destination offering virgin treasures.

The drop in UK visitors to Kenya is as a result of the former colony master not restoring all Kenya-bound charter flights even after prevailing travel bans had been lifted.

The land of Mahatma Gandhi, 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 the 49,756 in 2015.

Closer home the pearl of Africa took up the fourth position ahead of China with almost doubling her score of 29,038 visitors in 2015 to 51,023 for the year ended 2016.

Among other reasons attributed to the rise in Uganda tourists to Kenya includes the provision of Interstate Passes (EA Visa) which has enabled cross-border tourism for expatriates working in Uganda, as well as travellers wishing to explore the entire east Africa community block in a single regional tour.

The remarkable rise by China against traditional favourites such as Germany and Italy, who came in at position six and seven respectively is attributed to an increased number of direct and indirect flights servicing the two countries.

“The growth is encouraging, while noting the vital need for tour promoters to provide seamless services to tourists. When a visitor finds in-depth information, booking and payment methods all under the same roof or on a single screen, then it goes without saying they will consciously or otherwise be more persuaded to take up the trip.” Estelle Verdier, the Managing Director for Jumia Travel, East & Southern Africa told a local business daily.

China closed the year at 47,860 (visitors) compared to 29,790 for 2015, while Germany reached 43.502, up from 38,236, to beat Italy’s 35,953.

Kenya also received a healthy stream of visitors within the region from markets such as South Africa, Nigeria, Uganda and Rwanda, and Tanzania.

Locally Kenya also registered an increase in the number of domestic tourists with Mombasa and inland tourist’s attractions being on the menu of Kenyans.

Last year, 3.6 million beds were taken up by Kenyans compared to 3.1 million in 2015.

An earlier report by KTB indicates an upward trajectory for total (Africa) arrivals, rising steadily from 23pc in 2014, to 26pc and 28pc in 2015/2016 respectively. Overall Kenya can say it had a good year in 2016!

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