, NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 14 – Kenya has posted a 14 percent increase in tourist arrivals for the period between January and August 2010.
Tourism Minister Najib Balala said 701,691 tourists toured the country compared to the 611,674 arrivals recorded during the same period in 2009.
He told a media briefing on Thursday that the rise was due to aggressive marketing campaigns as well as diversification of the country\’s traditional source markets.
"The new markets we are targeting are Eastern Europe, India, China, Japan as well as African countries where we see great potential," Mr Balala said.
The figures marked a 17 percent monthly growth.
The minister said that with the positive growth in the tourism sector, the country was well on course to surpass its 2007 record of 1.045 million tourists.
The ministry together with the Kenya Tourist Board (KTB) has projected arrivals to hit 1.2 million by year end.
Earnings during the period jumped 85 percent to Sh48.53 billion, compared to 2009.
With improving global economic conditions, Mr Balala projects earnings to hit Sh100 billion up from Sh62.46 billion in 2009. The projection is expected to beat the 2007 record of Sh65.4 billion in tourism earnings.
Between January and August, the UK was the country\’s key source market accounting for 16 percent of total arrivals. The Minister however said there was need to tap into the Asian market, which had emerged as a potential key market.
"China for instance is talking of having 20 million outbound tourists by 2015 and we need to position ourselves to exploit this," he said adding that he was targeting having three million tourist arrivals by 2015.
At the same time, Mr Balala appealed to the Treasury to increase the money allocated to the ministry for it to be able to effectively market the country as the ideal tourist destination.
"This year KTB got Sh900 million for its marketing efforts while countries such as South Africa and Egypt which are our key competitors get anywhere between $70 million and $100 million," he said.
Tourism is one of the country\’s key economic drivers accounting close to 11 percent of Gross Domestic Product.