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Kenya to surpass 1m tourists this year

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 27 – The Kenya Tourist Board (KTB) has expressed optimism of surpassing the one million-tourist arrival mark this year.

KTB Managing Director Mureithi Ndegwa said on Tuesday that first half tourist estimates indicate arrivals to the country had surpassed those witnessed in 2007, Kenya’s benchmark year for the highest tourist arrivals.

“We look at the numbers from January to June (and) we see a likelihood that we could do much better than 2007,” Mr Ndegwa said.

Statistics from KTB show arrivals in the first six months grew 20.5 percent to 403,996, compared to 400,362 arrivals witnessed in 2007.

In 2007, the country earned Sh63.5 billion from 1,048,732 tourists. Growth in the sector was however frustrated by the combined effects of the post-election violence and the global financial crisis that cut travel resources.

The 2010 first quarter results released in May showed the sector had recorded a 16 percent rise in international arrivals.

Mr Ndegwa attributed the growth to market diversification efforts that have seen emerging markets such as China and the (Arabian) Gulf region play a major role as well as traditional source markets.

Of particular interest to KTB is an the increase in the composition of business travelers to the country.

“There has been an increase in terms of the composition of tourists with regards to purpose of visit with business travelers increasing significantly,” he said but could not immediately give exact figures.

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The MD was however quick to challenge industry stakeholders to upgrade their facilities in an effort to attract more tourists.

“From what we are hearing in terms of bed occupancy is things are on an upward trend though more could be done,” he said.

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