Latest data a Christmas present for Kenya's tourism industry
Information just received from the Kenya Tourism Board are the Christmas gift the country’s tourism industry has been waiting for. While the year on year figures were still down by 13.7 percent – showing significant slowing down of the trend however – are the month on month figures for October 2015 finally up again by 23 percent, signaling the long awaited change in direction.
While in October 2014 only 58.929 arrivals were recorded at the two main airports, Jomo Kenyatta International in Nairobi and Moi International in Mombasa, had the October 2015 figures gone up to 72.490 arrivals at both entry points.
This is the first time in years that Kenya has seen a month on month rise, news enthusiastically greeted by key tourism stakeholders when asked to comment:
‘I think we have finally turned the corner here. The private sector, hand in hand with the Kenya Tourism Board, was working flat out to promote the country abroad. The October rise in arrivals by, one can almost say a quarter, is now hopefully the start of our recovery process. We had two key tourism events in Kenya, Magical Kenya Travel Expo in October and then in November the Africa Travel Association Annual Congress. The two events have helped to show our main markets that Kenya is ready to do business with them. The hosted buyers and the ATA delegates and the media have seen first hand that it is once again ‘HAKUNA MATATA’. We have a new Cabinet Secretary who at last understands what the sector needs and his first steps in office were unanimously welcomed. Waived landing fees and incentives for charters is a big bonus now for some of these airlines to come back to Mombasa. If the November and December figures are also up we can be confident of a much better year 2016. There is still a lot of work to be done. We need the VAT removed from tourism products including park fees and we need the proposals of the recovery task force to be fully implemented. But with Najib Balala back in tourism we will accomplish that’ answered one regular commentator from Nairobi a short while ago when asked to comment on these welcome figures, however preferring anonymity.
The just ended WTO 10th Ministerial Conference in Nairobi also brought an estimated 7.000 plus delegates, spouses and equally important the global media into Kenya, all of them going home in the knowledge that the country is safe to visit, just as it was for President Obama in July and for Pope Francis in November. All these high profile visits have finally helped to turn the tide and bring more visitors to the country again.
KTB is now in high gear already to prepare for the first tourism trade shows of 2016 where, in most cases together with partner countries Uganda and Rwanda they will showcase Kenya’s attractions but also highlight that visits to the two neighbouring countries will make a journey to East Africa complete.