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Kenya tourism recovers

NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 26 – The tourism industry is back on the recovery path with the revival rate estimated at 87.9 percent.

Tourism Minister Najib Balala said on Monday that the market had picked up with some of Kenya’s source markets recording full recovery.

“United Kingdom has recovered by 80 percent, America and Germany have recovered by 99 percent and 79 percent which is very good. Italy and France have also recorded impressive growth rates,” he said of the country’s key markets which account for 50 percent of the international arrivals.

The Minister attributed the growth to the various measures that the government and industry players have undertaken to encourage visitors who had stayed away from the country following the effects of the post election violence to come back.

Discounted packages and visa fees reduction are some of the efforts that have borne fruit for the sector.

Newly appointed Kenya Tourism Board Managing Director Mureithi Ndegwa told a media briefing that the consolidated tourist arrivals by sea and air for the first nine months of the year was up by 38.6 percent to stand at 687,664.

Jomo Kenyatta International Airport recorded the highest arrival in the month of July posting 83,972 arrivals while Mombasa Airport had January as the best month with 21,593 arrivals.

“These are very encouraging results and with all factors remaining constant, it is expected that international tourism arrivals will close at approximately 930,000 at the end of 2009,” he said adding that this would surpass the 2008 figures which closed at 729,000.

Performance in the industry is constantly benchmarked with that of 2007 which was the best year for the local industry with the arrivals for the first time touching the two million mark.

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Mr Ndegwa said revenues in the sector as at August 2009 were estimated at Sh36.6 billion up from last year’s Sh33.2 billion.

The marketing of the country on the international media platform and on the internet would continue as the Board move to position the country as a prime tourist destination, the MD said.

“We have diversified our contents on the destination’s website “magicalkenya” and this site is available not just in English but also French, Chinese, German, Italian, Russian and we look forward to moving to other languages like Spanish and Gujarat,” he added.

They would also continue to aggressively venture into new unexploited markets such as Russia, South Africa, Australia, Poland, Canada and India.

A special unit would be set up to market tourism to Kenyans.

At the same time, Mr Ndegwa said KTB had positioned itself to capitalise on the 2010 World Cup by partnering with Soccerex, a business convention for the global football community that brings together the football fraternity prior to the tournament.

“KTB has joined hands with the Sports Stadia Management Board to showcase Kenya as an alternative training and travel destination during the 2010 period,” he said.

The Board was looking at signing a joint agreement with national carrier Kenya Airways to ferry people from oversees to South Africa for the World Cup but with a few days stop over in Kenya.

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