Presently 174 hosted buyers and about a dozen invited media organization representatives in Kenya are traveling across the country to sample and experience the wide range of attractions the country offers to tourist visitors.
The pre-Magical Kenya Travel Expo 2015 tour coincided with the release of data by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, that even in August visitor numbers to the country declined by 24.1 percent, from 93.427 in 2014 to only 70.878 in August 2015. The July figure was given as 78.243 which coincided with the visit of President Obama into Kenya and the arrival of thousands of participants in the Global Entrepreneurship Summit which President Uhuru Kenyatta hosted with his American counterpart.
Arrivals in Mombasa, in contrast, fell from last year’s 10.962 international visitors to 7.546 in August but additional charter flights have since then resumed operations, hopefully driving numbers up again.
KNBS also gave accumulated data for the year to date from January to August, which shows a decline of some 18.3 percent compared to a year ago, resulting in just under half a million foreign visitors coming to Kenya.
Notably though have visits from neighbouring countries continued to increase, with travelers from Uganda and Rwanda taking increased advantage of holiday offers put on the market as well as favourable airfares for vacation packages at the Kenya coast.
There is however a renewed spirit of hope among Kenyan safari operators and hoteliers that the trend has indeed bottomed out and recovery is on the way and the efforts of the Kenya Tourism Board to bring in a record number of hosted buyers will no doubt go a long way to make sure that this recovery is indeed happening.
While on a media tour organized by KTB ahead of the Magical Kenya Travel Expo, which is staring tomorrow at the Leisure Lodge Beach and Golf Resort in Diani, was it also observed that over two dozen packed tourist vehicles were making their way from Malindi and Watamu towards the Sala Gate of Tsavo East National Park, clearly a sign that demand has shown an upswing after months of often few tourists taking safaris out of the coast resorts.
Hoteliers spoken to along the way all confirmed that forward bookings showed marked signs of improvement and the upcoming fifth edition of the Magical Kenya Travel Expo, for the first time ever hosted at the Kenya coast, will play its part in reviving demand and putting Kenya in the headlines again.
Travel journalists from China, South Korea, India, the UAE, Uganda, Nigeria and Canada were all able to witness the scenic beauty of Amboseli National Park, seen conservation organizations and learn about their invaluable work, like the Watamu based Ocean Trust. The publicity generated from this will be priceless for Kenya as it will portray the country as an extraordinary destination, where all pieces of the tourism puzzle make a great picture. From safaris over beach vacations, big game fishing, golfing, history – the media team heard about the upcoming new niche of Battlefield Tourism to the Taita Hills area – culture and of course the welcoming Kenyan people all make for those vacations of a life time. Combined with Kenya’s participation in the common East African tourist Visa which allows for cross border trips to also see Rwanda and Uganda, and the restoration of Visa on Arrival facilities, are all these factors bound to show results before the end of the year.