Kenya’s tourist arrivals reached 14,049 since the reopening of the international borders on Aug. 1, tourism and wildlife ministry said on Friday.
According to statistics released by the Tourism Research Institute, the major points of entry are Jomo Kenyatta International Airport which had 13,249 arrivals. Moi International Airport Mombasa had 645.
Najib Balala, Tourism and Wildlife Cabinet Secretary said the data released on Friday is important to the country as it helps the ministry to keep track of international tourist numbers to determine whether tourism and travel are improving since the easing of travel restrictions and the resumption of international flights into the country.
“It will be done on a monthly basis going forward to gauge our progress in the tourism and travel industry,” Balala said.
The data focuses on the number of international arrivals via airports into Kenya and their purposes of visit.
The east African nation’s tourism industry, which was once mainly sustained by international visitors, is repositioning itself to appeal to the domestic marketplace in the face of COVID-19
According to the data, of the 14,049 arrivals, 6,368 came to visit family or friends, 3,685 for holiday, 2,325 on business, 1,129 in transit, 221 for education, 194 for medical, 72 for religious purposes, 47 for meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibition, and eight for sports.
The ministry said the top three international arrivals by country are the United States, which had 2,768 tourists, Britain, which had 2,469 arrivals, and Uganda, with 506.
“As a country we should also keep track of domestic flights as well as hotel bookings by domestic tourists so that we can keep track of the performance of tourism and travel for both the domestic and international markets,” Balala said.
The east African nation’s tourism sector has slumped to its lowest level in decades following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in March, as restrictions which were put in place locally and internationally curtailed travel.
The sector has lost about 81.8 billion shillings (about 770 million U.S. dollars) since March, according to tourism ministry, which is about 50 percent of its average annual revenue.