Kenya records more visitors, increasing tourism earnings

Source: Xinhua| 2017-04-11 00:37:00|Editor: yan
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by Chrispinus Omar

NAIROBI, April 10 (Xinhua) -- Kenya's tourism sector recorded a 17-percent growth in earnings in 2016, buoyed by more overseas tourists from countries like the United States, India and China, an official said Monday.

Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala said Kenya recorded 877,602 visitors last year, up from 752,073 visitors in 2015.

The minister attributed the growth and recovery of the sector to a series of new measures to improve security and efforts to stimulate the sector's demand by removing taxes, relaxing visa rules and improving infrastructure.

"I am happy to report that 2016 arrivals and receipts signal better times ahead for a sector that had been beset by insecurity and other challenges," Balala said.

The East African nation suffered a major slump in the tourism sector after a series of terror attacks targeting Nairobi and tourist resorts in Lamu and Mombasa.

Balala said the sector last year recorded revenues of 1 billion U.S. dollars, an extra 120 million dollars, from the tourists who arrived in Kenya mostly through the air and seaports.

According to figures released by Balala, China has prominently grown to contribute 5 percent of all tourists coming to Kenya, coming after Kenya's neighbor Uganda.

Another growing source of Kenya's tourist arrivals is other African countries, which contributed nearly 29 percent of all tourists visiting Kenya in 2016, according to the minister.

The minister spoke during the launch of the International Year for Sustainable Tourism for Development, an initiative of the UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), to promote sustainable tourism across the country's vast wildlife parks and sanctuaries.

"We are a leader in tourism. We confirmed our credentials in environmental conservation by burning 100 tonnes of ivory to make a statement against poaching," Balala said.

Kenya, the minister said, relied upon the preservation of nature to meet the demands of 80 percent of Kenyan tourists.