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Tourist arrivals dip by 91% in August as Kenya remains optimistic

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Kenya recorded a 91.2 per cent decline in the number of international arrivals for August 2020, data from the Tourism Research Institute shows.

The data indicates that in August, only 14,049 tourists came to the country, a far cry from 159,804 tourists who came to Kenya in August 2019.

The sharp decline is as a result of coronavirus pandemic which struck the nation in March.

Of the total arrivals in August, 45 per cent of the guests came to visit their friends and families while 3,685 came for vacation and holiday.

A further 2,335 came as business travellers while the rest, 1,129 were on transit.

Kenya resumed international flights on August 1 after a four-month hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The ban on international flights cost Kenya’s tourism sector Ksh80 billion in tourism revenue for the first six months ending July 2020.

For August arrivals, the US had the highest number of travellers (2,768) followed by tourists from Britain (2,469) and neighbouring Uganda with 506 visitors.

Ironically, between July and October, Kenya is awash with tourists heading to the famous Maasai Mara to witness the wildebeest migration.

Hundreds of thousands are hosted by the Mara ecosystem for months as an estimated two million wildebeest cross the Mara River to Serengeti in Tanzania.

Even as the Tourism Ministry under the stewardship of Najib Balala makes an effort to revive the sector, it will have to contend with lost revenue for the year 2022 ending in December.

The tourism sector in 2019 earned Kenya Ksh163.6 billion which was a 3.9 per cent rise from 2018 where Ksh157.4 came in.

However, domestic tourism has resumed with a bang, most Kenyans travelling to the coast following the relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions by the government in July.

In mid-August, hoteliers at the Coast were optimistic that business would resume fully should the trend continue.

Most of the facilities were fully booked.

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