COVID EFFECT

International arrivals drop by 72% as corona hurts Tourism sector

The country has recorded a gradual growth in arrivals, since the resumption of international flights

In Summary
  • The rate of those visiting as tourists dropped to 19% compared to 63% same period last year
  • The US has traditionally been the leading foreign tourist market for Kenya but this was recently reversed after being dethroned by Tanzania. 
Tourism CS Najib Balala. Image: File.
Tourism CS Najib Balala. Image: File.

The ongoing global coronavirus crisis saw the number of international arrivals to  Kenya between January to October drop by 72 per cent, the Ministry of Tourism has said. 

The 10- months data released yesterday by Tourism Research Institute shows the country received 470,971 international arrivals during the period compared to 1,718,550same period last year. 

 According to the statistics, the country experienced a good performance for January and February but a drastic decline in March when the country recorded the first coronavirus watered down the general results. 

 

A near-total collapse of international arrivals occurred between April to July due to the travel restrictions, and then a slight improvement took place after the resumption of international flights in August.

“We are not out of the woods yet, but we are optimistic the situation will gradually improve once the vaccines being developed become readily available to the masses,'' Tourism and Wildlife Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala said. 

He added that the whole world will be safe only when everybody is vaccinated.

''So we should encourage the mass distribution of the vaccines once they are ready without discrimination”, Balala said.

The country has recorded a gradual growth in arrivals, since the resumption of international flights, registering 14,049 arrivals in August, 26,018 in September, and 39,894, in October respectively.

This is an indication of the steady growth of travel confidence and trust for the Magical Kenya destination. 

Out of the recorded international arrivals up to October, 35.32 per cent were visiting friends and families, 35.11 per cent are business travelers and only 19.92 per cent are holiday travelers.

 

This is a sharp decline compared to 63.15 per cent of holiday travelers during the same period in 2019.

The decline in holiday travel numbers is an indication that only essential travel is happening and the holiday market will take longer to recover.

The top five international arrivals by country are Uganda (60.399), the USA (53,444), Tanzania (43,649), UK (42,341), and India (25,251).

The highest number of travelers in gender were male compared to female travelers, with 70 per cent of travelers from Uganda being male and 30 per cent female, 54 per cent of travelers from the USA were male compared to 46 per cent who were female.

On Monday, the country's national carrier, Kenya Airways resumed direct flights to New York from Nairobi after a nine-month hiatus due to Covid-19 restrictions operating two weekly flights.

The US has traditionally been the leading foreign tourist market for Kenya but this was recently reversed after being dethroned by Tanzania. 

Of those coming from Tanzania were  77 per cent were male while 33 per cent were female travelers respectively.

At the same time, the tourism sector, experienced a loss of revenue of 74 per cent indirect international tourism receipts for 2020 translating to a Sh37billion loss against projected revenue of Sh 147.5 billion for the review period.

The loss of revenue is mainly due to the impact of Covid-19 pandemic on the sector.