•Tourism Research Institute(TRI) data shows 44.9 per cent of the international arrivals came to Kenya for business and MICE(Meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions).
•Tanzania for the first time overtook the US and Uganda to become Kenya's leading tourist source market.
Most visitors to Kenya in September came for business deals and meetings, latest government data shows, as month-on-month arrivals almost doubled to 26,018.
This is 85.2 per cent up compared to the 14,049 visitors who came into the country in August after the resumption of international flights.
Tourism Research Institute(TRI) data shows 44.9 per cent of the international arrivals (11,696 visitors) came to Kenya for business and MICE (Meetings, incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions), signalling Kenya's regional importance as a trade and business hub.
This is contrary to the traditional trends where visitors coming in for holiday and leisure top the list of international arrivals with over 100,000 visitors a month pre-Covid period.
At least 7,782 visitors (29.9%) were in the country to see family and friends, making it the second most popular purpose of visit.
Holidaying came in a distant third with 4,295 arrivals for the month (16.5%) of total arrivals, a month.
Tanzania for the first time became Kenya's leading tourist source market, beating top markets of US and Uganda which have traditionally led on international and regional context, respectively.
During the months under review, Tanzania led as the top market sources with 4,309 visitors followed by Uganda with 3,812 arrivals. The US was third with 3,458 of its citizens visiting the country.
Other purposes of visit were medical (418 arrivals), education(252), religion (137) and sports 33 visitors. A total 1,405 visitors passed through Kenya, on transit, during the month.
Jomo Kenyatta International Airport handled 16,666 visitors , Moi International Airport (Mombasa) recorded 654 arrivals while other airports handled 98 international visitors.
At least 21 airlines, among them national carrier-Kenya Airways are serving the two major airports.
KQ, as it is known by its international code, flies to 20 destinations with weekly frequencies of between two and nine to key cities.
Dubai tops with nine weekly flights. It has seven weekly flights to Entebbe(Uganda), Kigali(Rwanda), Dar es Salaam (Tanzania), Juba (South Sudan) and Bujumbura(Burundi).
Other airlines with high frequencies are Qatar and Ethiopian each with 14 weekly frequencies are Rwanda Air (12) Emirates and Uganda Airlines(seven) and Turkish Airlines (five).
Arrivals through other points of entry, which are cross-border movement from neighbouring countries of Tanzania, Uganda and Somalia totalled 8,600.
“The holiday market remains depressed, business/mice is leading,” TRI notes in its statistical report, “ In August, visiting family and friends was leading since people were eager to reconnect with family and friends.”
The September arrivals is an 84.7 per cent drop compared to same month last year when total arrivals for the month closed at 169, 574, which was an increase from 114,539 visitors same month the previous year.
Last year, the US was the leading market source for Kenya with a total 245,437 arrivals followed by Uganda and Tanzania with 223,010 and 193,740 visitors, respectively.
The UK was the fourth top source with 181, 484 arrivals, a year that the country recorded a new high of 2,048,834 international visitors, with tourism earnings jumping 3.9 per cent to Sh163.5 billion up from 157.4 billion in 2018.
Other top source markets for Kenya include India, China, Germany, France, Italy and South Africa.
The Covid-19 disruption on global travel has however hit hard the country's tourism industry which heavily depends on international markets, with Tourism CS Najib Balala projecting a 90 per cent drop on international arrivals this year, with earnings expected to fall by 80 per cent.
This means the country will miss out on about 1.8 million (1,843,949) international arrivals this year as a result of Covid-19, with Sh130.9 billion at stake, based on last years' performance.
Between March and June, the country lost 50 per cent of total annual tourism earnings which is about Sh81.8 billion.
“We expected to earn almost Sh189 billion in 2020-21.That was our target. But definitely we have no international tourism,” Balala said.
The government is counting on domestic tourism to help in the industry's recovery with President Uhuru Kenyatta urging Kenyans to commit to take their holidays locally for the next one year, as the country ponders post Covid-19 comeback.
“We must visit our hotels and parks, and every corner of our country,” President Kenyatta urged Kenyans during his Labour Day address in May.
Most hotels, parks and tourism attraction cites are now counting on December and New Year holidays to cushion their businesses which have struggled this year, with some entities forced to close.
At least 3.1 million jobs in travel and tourism were this year affected, data by the Kenya Private Sector Alliance indicates, as hotel , pubs and restaurants, tour operators, airlines, travel agents and their related suppliers and support services recorded low business.