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High spending tourists brush-off election jitters to flock Kenya

Tourism was the best performer in the first quarter of 2017, registering a growth of 15.8 per cent from 10.4 per cent during the first quarter of 2016/FILE

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 19 – The tourism sector has been on an upward trajectory in the first quarter of 2017 with the growth expected to shrug off the election period, traditionally a low season for the sector.

Central Bank of Kenya Governor Dr. Patrick Njoroge says preliminary numbers show an increase in the number of tourist numbers in the second quarter as well as an improvement in the number of high spending visitors.

“The composition of our tourists has changed because we are getting larger returns per tourist, we have moved a little from low-end tourists to high-end tourist from the money perspective,” Njoroge said.

The sector has been recording improvement in the past two years after it was hard hit by insecurity especially after the Westgate Mall attack in September 2013.

Tourism was the best performer in the first quarter of 2017, registering a growth of 15.8 per cent from 10.4 per cent during the first quarter of 2016.

Tourist arrivals increased from 317,024 in the first three months of 2016 to 326,875 in the quarter under review while hotel bed occupancy grew from 1,937,007 in the first quarter of 2016 to 2,115,732 beds in the quarter under review

In 2016, the sector recorded 17.8 per cent increase in earnings for the first time since 2012 to post Sh99.7 billion from Sh84.6 billion.

The number of international visitor arrivals rose by 13.5 per cent to 1.3 million in 2016 owing to improved security and successful high profile conferences hosted in the country.

Additionally, the sector has benefited from aggressive marketing in the domestic and international markets.

The Tourism Ministry has continued to invest in the sector with the Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala hopeful that the sector will grow by 20 per cent.

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