Uganda and Tanzania continue to be major tourist sources for Kenya after the USA according to the Tourism Sector Performance Report 2019. The country received 245,437 tourists from America last year, the highest from one country, while Uganda and Tanzania were second and third with 223,010 and 193,740 respectively.
According to international tourist arrivals data from Kenya's department of immigration and border management captured through the personal identification secure comparison and evaluation system, (the PISCES software), Rwandan visitors to Kenya recorded the highest increase by 24.63 per cent, from 34,758 visitors in 2018 to 43,321 in 2019.
Arrivals from Uganda are expected to increase further this year following the introduction of Uganda Airline's direct flight from Entebbe to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) in Nairobi and Moi International Airport (MIA) in Mombasa last year. Mombasa doubles as a business and holiday destination for Uganda and the new air link is a boost to both.
"The security situation remained stable in the year with sustained investments by the government in a number of campaigns to woo tourists paying off," reads the report released last week.
Due to an increasing number of holiday makers, MIA registered the highest number of tourist arrivals with 8.56 per cent growth while JKIA recorded a 6.07 per cent increase. This is attributed to a rising number of direct flights such as Air France in March 2019.
"After resuming flights between Paris and Nairobi in 2018, Air France increased its flights frequency from three to five weekly in March 2019. The French market has also seen growth as others like the UK decline," reads the report.
Qatar Airways also started direct flights from Doha to Mombasa in December 2018, serving various markets due to Doha being a major connection hub. Ethiopian Airlines also increased the number of flights to Mombasa from one to two daily in 2019 boosting arrivals through MIA.
"An increase in tourists in Kenya has been pegged on among others, automation of systems that have made starting businesses in Kenya easy and a commitment by the government to continue adopting a robust regulatory framework and improve the business environment," reads the report.
The number of visitors from the Middle East slumped by 7.5 per cent followed by Europe and Asia at 4.4 and 4.3 respectively.
Cumulatively, Kenya's tourism industry recorded significant growth with international arrivals last year increasing by 1.167 per cent from about 2.02 million passengers in 2018 to 2.04 million in 2019.
On a monthly basis, August had the highest number of international visitors with 213,591 tourists followed by the month of July with 206,340 visitors while May and April registered the lowest arrivals with 139,538 and 146,258 visitors respectively.
The report showed the highest number of international tourists were between the age of 35-44 years followed by those aged between 25-34 years. Tourists aged 65 years and above recorded the least number of arrivals at four per cent.
More than 63.1 per cent of all tourists who visited Kenya in 2019 were holidaymakers, 13.5 per cent were business travellers, 10.6 per cent were visiting family and friends, and 12.75 per cent came to seek other services such as treatment, shopping and education.