Uganda and Tanzania continue to be major sources of tourists into Kenya after the United States of America (USA) as the country registered a 53.29 percent growth in 2021, following the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions.
The latest data from Tourism Research Institute shows that international visitor arrivals to Kenya in 2021 compared with the previous year arrivals which were 567,848.
Subsequently, Kenya’s tourism industry recorded a 34.76 percent jump in revenue collection, which translated to Kes146.5 billion, compared to Kes88.6 billion recorded in 2020.
The resurgence of the virus in the first half of 2021 characterized by the Delta variant slowed down anticipated recovery but marked improvement started being recorded from the month of June.
Growth for the rest of the year was aided by reopening up of the source markets in the US and Europe as well as the relaxation of travel restrictions in Kenya along with the progress made in the roll-out of Covid-19 vaccines.
In the 12-month period ended December 2021, the US led the chart as Kenya’s top tourist source with 136,981 followed by Uganda (80,067), Tanzania (74,051) while the United Kingdom and India were fourth and fifth tourist source markets with 53,264 and 42,159 visitors, respectively, coming in.
Overall, holidaymakers accounted for 34.44 percent of tourist arrivals or 299,802 people followed by those visiting their families and friends at 257,357 (29.57 percent).
In the year under review, a total of 229,804 people visited Kenya for business under the meetings, incentives, exhibitions, and conferences (MICE) category.
Only 19,053 visitors (2.19 percent) came to Kenya for education purposes and only 1 percent came for medical treatment.
Last year, Kenya’s main airport, JKIA, handled over 30 scheduled passenger airlines with some new airlines such as Air Tanzania, Air Seychelles, Sri Lankan Airlines, and Renegade Air and other restarting services to the airport such as Etihad Airways and Jubba Airways.
In total, the airlines deployed over 26,000 scheduled passenger flight landings, an indication that tourist arrivals were gradually recovering.
In 2021, Malindi Airport which is one of the key routes to the Coastal tourism circuit experienced good recoveries in the number of flight landings deployed, reaching almost to the-COVID performance levels. It grew its passenger flight landings to 2,400 almost to the same level as in 2019.
The ministry of tourism projects that arrivals this year will rise to 1.027 million with revenue collection closing at roughly Kes173 billion.