International tourist numbers grew by 37% in 2018

Tourists having fun at Diani beach during Christmas festive season.Tourism stakeholders in Malindi have expressed optimism that the international market will pick up in November BRIVIAN SIMIYU

The number of international tourists who visited Kenya grew by 37% in 2018 compared to 2017.

According to the Tourism Sector Performance report released by the Tourism ministry on Monday, at least 2,025,206 international tourists arrived in the country last year compared to 1,474,671 in 2017.

Out of this number, 73.9% were visiting for holidays while 13.3% were here for business. 6.7 per cent jetted into the country to visit friends while the remaining 6.4 per cent were here for other purposes.

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While releasing the report at State House Mombasa, Tourism CS Najib Balala said factors that led to the increase in tourists include withdrawal of travel advisories, Visits by foreign dignitaries like US First lady Melania Trump, Former US President Barack Obama and UK Prime Minister Theresa May.

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International Conferences like 79th SKAL conference which was held in Mombasa, Sustainable Blue Economy, Africa Hotel investment Forum and African Union Ministerial Sub-Committee on Tourism conferences, all held in Nairobi, also played a part.

Ease of doing business was also a major contributor with World Bank ranking Kenya at position 80 from 92 and Nairobi being ranked 3rd after Lagos and Abuja in the Hotel Pipeline report.

“In 2018 we had 68 global hotel brands and we expect another 20 to set up in the next five years,” said CS Balala.

Other factors include growth in the aviation sector, revitalized marketing efforts, improved security situation and open boarder policy which has helped boost intra Africa travel.

Meanwhile, the local tourism sector also saw an increase with the number of bed-nights growing from 3,645,144 in 2017 to 3,974,243 in 2018.