Friday, December 23, 2011

Tourism booms despite travel alerts

Tourists from Europe arrive at Moi International Airport, Mombasa. The number of visitors increased by 16 per cent this year.

Tourists from Europe arrive at Moi International Airport, Mombasa. The number of visitors increased by 16 per cent this year. 

By JULIUS SIGEI [email protected]

More than one million tourists visited Kenya this year despite numerous travel advisories, figures released by the Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) show.

The industry weathered Al-Shabaab attacks and economic uncertainty to record an impressive 1,039,852 visitors by the end of October this year.

This is a 16 per cent increase from the same period last year when 896,228 visitors arrived.

The industry’s earnings were Sh81.9 billion compared to Sh56.7 billion last year.

“This is a 44 per cent increase compared to the same period last year,” KTB chairman Kitili Mbathi said in a press statement.

He attributed the good performance to the diversification of tourism products from the traditional beach and wildlife tourism to sports, culture, conference and eco-tourism.

Increased flights from source markets also played a role.

The number of airlines flying to Mombasa International Airport, for instance, has grown to 35, compared to 29 last year.

Europe remained the main regional source market in the quarter with a 47 per cent share. The United Kingdom maintained the top country in the continent with 15.8 per cent of all in-bound arrivals by air and sea.

It is followed by the US (9.6 per cent), Italy (7.5 per cent), Germany (5.5 per cent) and India (4.7 per cent).

India replaced France to become one of the top five source markets in the month of June 2011.

Some markets in eastern Europe, Asia and the Middle East have recorded growth of over 40 per cent.

They include UAE (46.8 per cent), Poland (62.9 per cent), Russia (46.6 per cent), Czech Republic (51.6 per cent) and Hungary (42.1 per cent), Mr Mbathi said.

In Africa, Uganda is still the highest source of tourists, recording 36,030 visitors, a 36.5 per cent growth compared to the same period in 2010.

South Africa was second with 31,355 arrivals followed by Tanzania at 28,435.

In Asian markets, China led the pack with 33,468 tourists followed by 16,738 visitors from the United Arab Emirates.

However, the once lucrative cruise ship tourism is on the verge of collapse if piracy is not stamped out.

Since February, no cruise ship has docked in Kenya.

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