With final figures now available from the Ministry of Tourism in Nairobi for the year 2011, it has become evident that the 98 billion Kenya shillings (US$1.2 billion) tourism revenues missed their initial target by just 2 billion, a remarkable achievement considering the circumstances the industry was faced with in the last quarter of last year.
Abductions and killings of foreigners by radical Islamic terrorists from Somalia prompted widespread anti-travel advisories and an albeit short-lived spate of explosions in Nairobi, after Kenya pursued the terror groups deep into Somalia with land, sea and air forces, too shook the tourism sector.
Added to that came the woes of the Euro zone and the prospect of yet another global recession, and still, Kenya’s arrival numbers were remaining steady through the steep growth rates of the earlier part of 2011 eventually flattened out. Arrivals by air, the most significant factor of inbound travel, reached 1.26 million passengers while cross border arrivals from Tanzania and Uganda topped 520,000 travellers.
While arrivals in Nairobi soared, the same cannot be said for Mombasa where, in spite of more inclusive tour charters from core producer markets in Europe, the overall annual trend for 2011 remained not too much above 2010. All in all, Kenya established a new arrival and revenue record though, for the third year running, since the recovery set in during 2009, and the forecast is cautiously optimistic amongst key tourism stakeholders for 2012.
“We are introducing new tourism circuits in Western Kenya and are highlighting the attractions beyond the best known parks. New upmarket lodges and safari camps, even beach resorts, have come on line in 2011 helping us market Kenya as a choice destination,” said a regular source from Nairobi communicated to this correspondent overnight in response to relevant questions.
Our source also said: “We offer the widest range of air connections from overseas of any airport in the region, and that also makes Nairobi a first choice for passengers to travel to. It benefits Kenya overall. When the airport expansion at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) is completed, we will also have a much better arrival and departure experience for visitors and Kenya Airways are playing a big part in putting Kenya on the map, in Africa and overseas.
“For 2012 we are optimistic and more so for 2013, when we will celebrate out 50th year of Independence. We are planning a big programme of promotions along the Olympics in London this year and for 2013 we will probably see record spending for tourism marketing as we have our golden jubilee year. This is all now getting into gear and will no doubt show good results,”
Tea, as a result of favorable exchange rates, however topped the foreign exchange earners list with 107 billion Kenya Shillings, leaving tourism again in second place but determined to reclaim top spot in coming years. Visit www.magicalkenya.com – KTB’s official website, for more information about the destination.