Nairobi — The Tourism sector defied poll jitters to post a 20.3 percent growth in 2017 recording Sh120bn revenue up from Sh99bn in 2016.
Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala says the growth was supported by a 9.8 percent growth in total international arrivals which jumped to 1.474 million arrivals compared to 1.342 million arrivals in 2016.
The growth of the sector was supported by the domestic tourist segment which grew bed nights to 4 million in 2017 from 3.4 million in 2016, with the ministry attributing the growth to increased promotion of domestic tourism by the government.
"We had projected a 17 percent growth in the sector but only managed 9.8 percent growth owing to the prolonged electioneering period. We are however positive about this year and are sure to hit the 16 percent target that we have projected," Balala said.
The increase in arrivals to Kenya outpaced the estimated global growth in tourism numbers, according to the latest United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) World Tourism report which indicates that international tourist arrivals (overnight visitors) worldwide increased by 7 percent to reach a total of 1.32 billion in 2017.
The United States of America (USA) remained Kenya's leading source market, growing by 17 percent to top 114,507 arrivals and contributed 11.8 percent of total arrivals.
The United Kingdom, which is Kenya's primary source of international tourists, came in second with an 11.1 percent share of arrivals, which also grew by 11.1 percent to 107,078 arrivals.
Uganda came in third with a share of 6.4 percent, India with 6.2 percent and China with a share of 5.5 percent contribution to the total arrivals in 2017.
In terms of share of arrivals by region, Europe contributed 36 percent of arrivals, followed by Africa at 29 percent, the Americas at 15 percent, Asia at 15 percent, Middle East at 3 percent and Oceania (which includes Australia) at 2 percent.