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Kenya’s tourism earnings dropped by 7.4 per cent to Sh96 billion in the 2012/2013 financial year due to uncertainties caused by the March 4 General Election.
The earnings were Sh7.7 billion less than the 103.9 billion generated the previous year.
“Incidents which contributed to the non-resumption of charters, the uncertainty surrounding the March 4 election and the Euro zone crisis led to a drop in growth,” East African Affairs, Commerce and Tourism secretary Phyllis Kandie said during a press briefing in Nairobi Wednesday.
However, she said the decline was not as drastic because the weakening of the Kenya shilling in the previous year had led to the record earnings.
In dollar terms – the earnings divided by the average exchange rate – the sector recorded a flat growth. The two years could also not be exactly comparable after the ministry changed its reporting from the calendar (January to December) to the financial (July to June) year.
During the period under review 1.16 million tourists visited the country, 112,573 less than the previous year, by air and sea. Mombasa international airport had the biggest decline in arrivals of 13 per cent to receive 182,651 visitors while the Jomo Kenyatta international airport received 983,715 visitors after experiencing an 8.1 per cent decline.
The coast region has in recent months experienced a decline in chartered flights and lost tourists to Zanzibar, Mauritius and Seychelles due to the perception that it is a mass market and lacks exclusivity.
Cruise tourism grew by over 400 per cent with the arrival of a cruise ship in December last year and another at the beginning of the year bringing in a total of 1375 visitors.
The country’s key markets UK, USA, Italy and Germany recorded a decline in growth that was attributed to the financial crisis and travel advisories issued prior to the general election over perceived insecurity.
India was the only top five markets that grew in the last year to record 66,424 visitors. The 10 per cent increase was attributed to direct flights and the increasing disposable income.
From its growing emerging markets, the country received 26,110 people from Australia, 38, 482 people from China and 44,526 people from the United Arab Emirates.
Several regional markets like South Africa and Tanzania recorded a decline in numbers though Uganda registered a 44 per cent growth to record 56,844 tourists coming into the country by air and sea
In the first half of 2013, Kenya received 495,978 tourists by air and sea with the largest drop being witnessed in February and March.
“We have registered upward growth in arrivals from the month of May and we believe this is an indication that the sector is on track. The current high season has also recorded impressive bookings in or accommodation facilities,” Ms Kandie said.
She said the product would be diversified by marketing targeted cultural events along with pitching for high profile conferences.
– Business Daily