International tourist arrivals to increase by 10 per cent in 2019: Tourism CS

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Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala.
Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala. PHOTO/COURTESY

Approximately 2.2 million international tourists are expected to visit the country by the end of year translating to a 10 per cent increase in the number of expected international arrivals, Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala has revealed.

According to the Tourism CS, the number of foreign tourists in 2019 will increase by approximately 174,000 individuals adding on to the 2,025,206 persons who vacationed in the country last year despite the number of international arrivals in the first half of the year dropping by 0.7 per cent to 921,090 compared to 927,797 registered in the first half of 2018.

CS Balala’s estimate was informed by the strong performance of the country’s key international tourist market, the United States of America, which in the first half of 2019 saw 110,688 US nationals tour the country compared to 101,167 persons who visited in the country in a similar period last year.

“The American market is still growing , that is our key market, we are also putting emphasis in the Chinese market where we have a strategy for the market,” Balala said in Nairobi yesterday during the launch of the Kenya Tourism Satellite Account, a tool for establishing the sector’s total contribution to the economy.

Uganda, Tanzania, France and China also greatly contributed to the number of foreigners visiting the country in the period under review. According to data from the Tourism Research Institute (TRI), arrivals from Uganda in the first half of the year grew by 3.7 per cent to 103,177 up from 99,459 registered in 2018. Arrivals from Tanzania stood at 92,340 despite the country’s contribution dropping by 14 per cent compared to a similar period last year. Tourists from China stood at 32,620 while those from France hit 25,584 individuals.

Despite the numbers hinting at increased foreign visits, CS Balala insisted that the Ministry is formulating a strategy to boost numbers for other European markets such as Russia and India as well as East African markets which have for the most part not shown any significant increase in the number of arrivals compared to last year.

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