The revenue gains were backed by a 17 percent increase in American tourists which hit 114,507. The US remained the leading source market despite the prolonged election period. There was an 11 per cent increase in UK arrivals. Uganda made for 6.4 per cent of arrivals. Uganda topped the list of Kenya’s top source markets in Africa, growing by 20.6 percent to 61,542 arrivals.
Balala said Kenyans are resilient and enjoy holidays and diverse tourism products incluing beach holidays and the famous wildebeest migration in the Maasai Mara. He said the Tourism ministry will partner with Kenya Airways to hold roadshows to promote Kenyan tourism in New York City.
This is part of its marketing strategy to increase the arrival base ahead of the start of direct flights between New York and Nairobi in October.
AU open skies policy
Balala has projected a further improvement of 16 per cent in 2018 after the African Union heads of state adopted a declaration to establish a Single African Air Transport Market during the AU summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The open skies initiative signed by more than 20 countries would offer a single air transport market space in terms of traffic volumes and airport infrastructure transforming intra-African air travel, lower price and increase connectivity. The “free visa on arrival for East Africans” directory by President Uhuru Kenyatta is expected to reduce restrictions and increase interest in visiting Kenya.
States are also expected to adopt the African passport and work with the AU Commission to facilitate its issuing at the national level based on international, continental and national policy provisions and continental design and specifications.AU has set a 2018 deadline for the removal of visa requirements for all African citizens in all African countries.
The ministry has set aside Sh1.43 billion for marketing, out of which Sh430 million is from tourism funds. “2017 was hard for the Tourism Board due to funding, but we remain positive this year,” Balala said.