Tourist arrivals declined marginally for the first quarter of 2012, according to statistics released by the Ministry of Tourism and the Kenya Tourist Board. Overall tourist arrivals declined by 0.5% in the first three months of the year, due to a dip of 3.2% and 2.2% for the months of January and March respectively, and a rise of 4.3% in the month of February.
Minister for Tourism Hon. Dan Mwazo attributed the decline to a set back after terrorism threats on the Lamu Archipelago towards the end of last year, and subsequent travel advisories issued by some of Kenya's key source markets such as the UK and France. This was evidenced by a drop in international toursit arrivals at the Moi International Airport Mombasa which declined by 21.8% to stand at 72,753 by March 31 st , 2012.
Arrivals at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport grew by 8.8% to stand at 239,523 as compared to the 220,097 recorded between January and March 2011. 16 out of the 31 key source markets recorded an increase in tourist arrivals during the quarter, with Finland and Sweden registering a 79.2% and 69.6% over a similar period the previous year. "we are now confident that the remedial and proactive security measures taken by the government will help remedy the situation", He added.
The United Kingdom continued to account for the majority of tourist arrivals into Kenya, followed by United States, Italy and Germany. India, which recorded a 15% growth in tourist arrivals between January and March, edged France out of the list of the top five source markets. "The void left by the collapse of two main operators that were operating to Mombasa exclusively, and the cancellation by XL Airlines of charters to Mombasa in February, are among the reasons that saw the number of tourists from France decline by more than 75% in the first quarter of the year, relative to the figures registered during a similar period last year", Mwazo said.
Kenya Tourist Board Managing Director Muriithi Ndegwa said this being an election year, the tourism industry may experience difficulties to uncertainties related to the security during such peiods in the country. Muriithi said KTB has diversified its tourism products menu with the aim giving tourists a reason to return, which may in turn increase confidence among prospective holiday makers and adventure travelers. "Kenya has made a name as the prime beach and safari destination. In our marketing campaigns we are also positioning the country as a top destination in sports, culture, and adventure tourism, among many other propositions", He said.