The country’s tourism earnings dropped 7.4 per cent to 96.2 billion shillings. International tourism arrivals also fell 8.8 per cent to 1.2 million.
“Let’s look at the context in terms of the tourism situation especially between the financial year of 2012 and 2013: if you look at the period from July to June this year, we’ve had a number of challenging factors, one of them being the election nearing. Initially the election was to be held in August, it was changed to December, which comprises of a high season. Then the time was changed to March,” Kenya Tourist Board managing director Muriithi Ndegwa told CNBC Africa on Wednesday.
“When it comes to the electioneering period, many of the international tourists were a bit hesitant. They were slow in terms of bookings and kept also changing their bookings. During this period we had the successful general elections in March this year, and we’ve seen in our statistics that the period prior to the elections, and during the elections, we had the most significant and biggest drop.”
In February, Kenya recorded a 30 per cent drop as compared with the same period last year. In March, they recorded another double digit drop close to 27 per cent. April also saw another double digit drop during the postponed announcement of election results.
The country also had insecurity-related incidents towards the end of last year in Mombasa and Nairobi, which are prime tourism destinations spots in the country.
“The growth driver for us in this last financial year has been the emerging markets. If you look at a country like India, it grew by double digit against the same period last year. China, there was also substantial growth. We also look at the rest of African countries like Uganda, registering a 53 per cent growth over the same period last year,” Ndegwa explained.
“Middle East also registered some phenomenal growth, also double digit. When you look at the traditional markets against the emerging markets, the emerging markets have really performed very well, but the base in terms of the total contribution to the overall kitty is still a bit low.”
A dip in economic performance in various European regions, which is a major tourist market for Kenya, added to the low figures.
“Despite all these challenges, we have actually come over the hill. When you look at January to June, in the month of May and June, we started seeing an upward swing, and June this year we had a positive growth against the previous year. We’re quite optimistic, especially working very closely with the ministry and the private sector,” said Ndewa.