The number of tourists coming to Kenya in the period ending September rose 10 percent as compared to a similar period last year, defying election jitters.
Kenya held its general election on Aug. 8 after grueling campaigns, with President Uhuru Kenyatta being declared the winner.
However, the Supreme Court annulled the election on Sept. 1 and ordered for a fresh poll leading to a lengthy electioneering period.
Prior to the August polls, several Western nations, including the U.S. and the UK issued travel advisories to the citizens citing fear of violence.
However, the latest arrival figures from the Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) released on Friday points to the fact that elections did not affect the tourism sector.
Some 720,376 tourists visited Kenya in the months leading to September through the main airports Moi and Jomo Kenyatta. This was a 10 percent rise from 655,058 in the nine months in 2016.
In August when Kenya held elections, some 89,782 tourists visited the East African nation, a slight decline from 96,958 that month in 2016.
And in September following the annulment of the presidential election, some 87,440 tourists visited Kenya, up from 75,630 in a similar period in 2026.
Most of the arrivals in the nine months were recorded in the third quarter at 256,150 as Kenya geared for elections. In the first quarter, some 224,370 tourists visited Kenya while in the second quarter 239,856.
Nearly 90 percent of the tourists came through Jomo Kenyatta airport in Nairobi while the rest via Moi airport in Mombasa.
The Kenya Association of Hotelkeepers and Caterers Coast Executive Sam Ikwaye recently said election jitters did not affect international tourist arrivals. Interestingly, domestic tourism was hit as people kept off mainly the Coast.
With elections done and political rhetoric having gone down, the tourism sector is upbeat in 2018.
“We expect continued recovery in the hospitality sector towards the end of the year, and in 2018, given improved security, growth of domestic tourism with Kenyans accounting for 54 percent of total bed nights and growth of MICE where the number of conferences held in the country would increase,” noted Cytonn, a Nairobi- based investment firm.
Aggressive government marketing by Kenya Tourism Board has helped restore confidence among key international markets such as Europe and U.S., as well as in new emerging markets in Africa and Asia.
Henry Wandera, an economics lecturer, attributed the growth in numbers to several government incentives to the sector which included removal of Value Added Tax charges on national park fees, capping of Kenya Wildlife Services park fees at 60 U.S. dollars from 90 dollars and scrapping of visa fees for children under the age of 16 years.