Kenya made Ksh163.56 billion from the tourism sector last year, a 3% increase from the 157.3 billion the country raked in the previous year, the Ministry of Tourism revealed on Friday.
Some 2.5 million tourists visited Kenya in 2019, a 1% increase from 2018 while local tourism activities amounted to 4.9 million bednights, a 10.4% growth from 4.48 million nights in 2018.
According to Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala, the numbers were driven by growth in the aviation sector, political stability, stable security, ease of doing business, and investor confidence.
The purposes of visit to Kenya included leisure (63.15%), business (13.5%) and visiting family and friends (10.6%).
Medical tourism, education, and shopping were also cited as factors behind the surge in arrivals.
Speaking during the release of the Performance of The Tourism Sector Report at a Nairobi Hotel on Friday, Balala said the total number of international visitors through all points of entry in 2019 was 2,048,834, a 1.167% increase from 2,025,206 in 2018.
Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) was the busiest point of entry, posting 1,423, 971 tourist arrivals which represents 70% of the total arrivals.
Mombasa International Airport, Mombasa posted 128,222 arrivals (23%), other airports 29,462 (1%) while other entry points posted 467,179 arrivals representing (6%) of the total number.
With tourism one of the top revenue earners for Kenya, Balala said that the industry had bounced back after the attack on the DusitD2 shopping complex in January last year but said the attack denied the country the opportunity to post even better numbers proportional with the country’s potential.
“Growth in the tourism sector was affected by the DusitD2 attack, lower budget allocation, and the overall global decline on tourism observed world over,” said Balala.
The report also shows that moving forward, the convenience of booking through technology, artificial intelligence and automation will be a key mover of tourism as more people look for easier and faster ways to book their travels.
Conversely, the ministry’s research also shows that more tourists want to experience new culture as opposed to risky adrenaline activities like big-wave surfing.