What you need to know:
- Last year's number of international arrivals was 2,025,206, compared to the 1,474,671 in 2017, an increase of 37.33 percent.
- A report from the Tourism ministry stated that the number of local tourists in 2018 was 3,974,243, a 9.03 percent increase from the 3,645,243 in 2017.
- While receiving the sector performance report for 2018, President Uhuru Kenyatta expressed satisfaction with the achievements, noting tourism contributes significantly to the economy.
- Tourism minister Najib Balala attributed the gains to coordinated efforts between the arms of government and marketing initiatives.
Tourism earnings grew 31.2 percent in 2018 to Sh157 billion, up from Sh119 billion the previous year.
Last year's number of international arrivals was 2,025,206, compared to the 1,474,671 in 2017, an increase of 37.33 percent.
A report from the Tourism ministry, released by Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala at State House Mombasa on Monday, stated that the number of local tourists in 2018 was 3,974,243, a 9.03 percent increase from the 3,645,243 in 2017.
While receiving the sector performance report for 2018, President Uhuru Kenyatta expressed satisfaction with the achievements, noting tourism contributes significantly to the economy.
“As part of enhancing repeat visits, as well as recommending destination to visitors. Kenya currently has a total of 68 global hotel brands, a clear indication that the international community is confident of returns in investment in the tourism sector,” he said.
President Kenyatta encouraged private sector players to refurbish their products and services in order to improve experiences.
He also urged county governments to prioritise the packaging of tourism products by partnering with government experts in order to boost the sector.
“Counties are key players and hosts of many tourism experiences. They should partner with government expert agencies, such as the Kenya Tourism Board \(KTB), and collaborate with neighbouring devolved units to enrich the existing tourism circuits."
Concerning the Sh460 Mama Ngina Waterfront project, the president said it is critical as it will improve experiences - it was given a facelift so as to meet international standards.
The project is expected to help make Mombasa a leading and competitive world class tourism destination.
At English Point Marina in Mombasa on Sunday, Mr Balala attributed the gains to coordinated efforts between the arms of government and marketing initiatives.
“Recovery funding has also helped grow the sector,” he said, adding Kenya also benefitted from the North Africa decline in tourism.
“The Arab Spring has badly affected them. Areas such as India and Thailand have their own issues [and so do] Florida and the Caribbean, with weather patterns changing. People are now moving to Africa,”
The Tourism Research Institute was asked to coordinate tourism research and analysis, with the help of the Immigration Department, the KTB, Central Bank, the Kenya National Bureaus of Statistics and other government and private sector agencies.
Tourism sector players, led by Diani Reef Beach Resort and Spa General manager, Subramaniam Ganapathy, noted the benefits of improved security and other factors.
He noted that during the December holidays, Ukunda airstrip was "very busy" owing to improved connectivity through infrastructure such as the standard gauge railway.
The resort, he said, had visitors from Portugal, Italy and Germany, adding their share was about 30 percent and that locals from Nairobi and other parts of Kenya accounted for the remaining 70 percent.
"Business is picking up ... we are happy with the way things are going. Kenya is getting more tourists because foreigners are now confident about security," he said.
After five years of dwindling numbers due to terrorism and negative travel advisories, the sector was boosted by major direct flights and a number of charter flights - Qatar Airways launched direct flights to Moi International Airport in Mombasa while Kenya Airways now flies directly to New York.