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Tourism arrivals beat pre-pandemic numbers to grow 35pc

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The number of international visitors to Kenya breached the two million mark last year with Kenya attracting 2,086,800 million tourists representing a 35.4pc growth when compared to the previous year.

According to the 2024 Economy Survey by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) the surge in the growth of tourist arrivals from 1,541,000 recorded in 2022 saw the sector reach a recovery rate of 102.5pc compared to 2019 when Kenya received 2,035,400, surpassing the global pre-pandemic recovery rate of 88pc.

“In Kenya, the tourism sector registered improved performance in 2023 mainly attributed to growth in the aviation sector and hosting of prominent conferences in the country,” said the bureau.

The growth which was better than the pre-pandemic performance for the first time also proved fruitful as the accommodation and hotels sub-sector created an additional 21,000 jobs.

The growth was also partly attributed to new hotels and the expansion of some of the existing ones. Additionally, the country also witnessed accelerated visitor arrivals during the Africa Climate Summit, together with two other major conferences that earmarked Nairobi as the top city in the world in the “Best in Travel 2024” by USA-based travel agency, Lonely Planet.

Hotel bed-night occupancy rose by 23.2pc to 8.6 million in last year out of which 53.5pc were occupied by Kenyans accounting for more than half of total bed-night occupancy in 2023.

The weakening of the Kenya shilling against major global currencies and the effects of inflation locally and internationally meant higher per capita spending by arriving tourists which helped sustain the sector last year.

The report projects that the sector performance will grow to Ksh 430 billion in 2024. It also projects hitting up to Ksh 1.024 trillion by 2028 indicating a possibility of the country achieving the government’s vision of attracting five million tourists by 2028.

Nduta Mukami
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