The statistics indicate that overall tourist arrivals by air and sea declined by 0.5 percent to 312,258 compared to 313,691 in the same period last year.
The first three months of the year, were characterised by a dip of 3.2 percent and 2.2 percent for the months of January and March respectively, and a rise of 4.3 percent in February.
Releasing the statistics, Tourism Minister Dan Mwazo attributed the decline to the tourist abductions that affected the Lamu Archipelago towards the end of last year, and subsequent travel advisories issued by some of Kenya’s key source markets such as the UK and France.
“As you know we had the grenade attacks, but one good thing to note is that last week, the UK government and the US, lifted the travel advisory that was there including Lamu. So we believe that these are challenges we continue to face, but the security organs are on top of this situation” said Mwazo.
The Minister noted that 16 out of the 31 key markets had recorded an increase in tourist arrivals for the first three months of the year, with Finland and Sweden registering a 79.2 percent and 69.6 percent over the first quarter of 2011, indicating success from marketing efforts by the Kenya Tourist Board in these countries.
In the first quarter of 2012, the UK led in tourist numbers by recording 45,543 visitors followed by Italy with 33,621 arrivals. USA took the third position by contributing 27,887, Germany 18,939 and India which grew by 15 percent taking the fifth position.
In the emerging markets, South Africa took the first position in terms of growth, of 27 percent to 9,403 visitors compared to the same period in 2011, followed by Uganda, which has always been in the first position, by recording 34.7 percent drop to 8,833 visitors. However the biggest contributor was India with 12,330 arrivals.
Tourist arrivals at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport grew by 8.8 percent to stand at 239,523 as compared to the 220,097 visitors who arrived into the country between January and March 2011.
Mwazo says despite various challenges experienced in the sector, and economic hardships, there is still hope of hitting the target of three million arrivals, by the end of the year compared o 1.7 in 2011.
“We are developing campaigns for the local tourism, in conjunction with KTB. We are also engaging the tourist outlets so that we can have promotional activities that will enable Kenyans, to go and enjoy the facilities in these outlets. We haven’t made much noise about that but we will,” added Mwazo.