International tourist arrivals to Kenya increased by 16.7 per cent to 877,602, from January to December last year, cabinet secretary Najib Balala has revealed.
Mr Balala said international visitor numbers was sign that the tourism recovery campaigns were bearing fruit.
During the period under review, international arrivals to the country by air and sea rose to 877,602 compared to 752,073 arrivals in 2015.
According to statistics from the Kenya Tourism Board (KTB), arrivals through the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Nairobi, jumped by 16.2 per cent to 782,013 last year compared to 672,789 visitors in 2015.
At the Moi International Airport, Mombasa, international arrivals last year grew by 22.2 per cent to 92,872 compared to 75,983 visitors in 2015.
On the other hand, arrivals by cruise ships at the port of Mombasa declined by 17.7 per cent to 2,717 last year compared to 3,302 visitors in 2015.
US OVERTAKES UK
In terms of share of arrivals during the period under review, the United States emerged as Kenya’s top source market after overtaking the United Kingdom which for years has been the country’s leading market.
Arrivals from the US market to Kenya rose to 97,883 last year up from 84,759 in 2015 while the UK market had 96,404 arrivals down from 98,523 in 2015.
India was third largest market for Kenya with 64,116 arrivals last year up from 49,756 in 2015 while Uganda came fourth with 51,023 arrivals up from 29,038 in 2015.
China displaced Germany and Italy from the top five performing markets for Kenya last year with 47,860 arrivals up from 29,790 in 2015.
Kenya last year, received 43,502 tourists from the German market up from 38,236 in 2015 while arrivals from Italy increased to 35,953 compared to 33,415 in 2015.
From the South Africa market, arrivals to Kenya rose to 35,926 last year compared to 30,500 arrivals in 2015.
Arrivals from France to the country last year increased to 20,435 up from 16,756 while arrivals from Canada rose to 19,790 compared to 17,362 in 2015.
From the Netherlands market, Kenya received 19,221 visitors last year up from 15,689 in 2015 while 18,160 Tanzanian tourists visited the country up from 17,752 in 2015.
The Cabinet Secretary attributed the rise in arrivals to significant security improvement in the country and tourism recovery campaigns which were done in both traditional and emerging markets.
He noted that the industry improvement was also bolstered by increase of visitors from the US market and the emerging markets of India and China.
On the African continent, Mr Balala said Uganda was Kenya’s top market last year while South Africa came second, Tanzania third while Nigeria and Ethiopia were fourth and fifth respectively.
To maintain the industry’s growth, the Cabinet Secretary asked politicians to stop making inflammatory statements ahead of the General Election in August.
“Every election year, tourist numbers dwindle due to a war of words among political leaders,” he said.