By Kennedy Kangethe
Nairobi — Insecurity has caused tourist arrivals to declined marginally according to the tourism sector performance in the 2013 calendar year released by Cabinet Secretary East African Affairs Commerce and Tourism Phyllis Kandie.
Total international arrivals for 2013 by air and sea dropped by 11.7 percent to close at 1.09 million arrivals down from 1.23 million arrivals recorded in 2012 while Jomo Kenyatta International Airport arrivals dropped by 14 percent to 900,000 from 1.047 million recorded in 2012.
Tourism revenue in 2013 declined by 2.13 percent to close at Sh93.97 billion from Sh96 billion.
Kandie attributed the decline to insecurity reported mostly in Nairobi and Mombasa regions that are terrorism related as well as the 16 percent VAT imposed on all goods and services that has increased the park fees, hotel bookings and travel expenses.
"Several incidences of insecurity reported mostly in Nairobi and Mombasa regions that are terrorism related have adversely affected the image of Kenya as a tourist destination as a result number of tourist source markets have at times issued advisories against non essentials travel to Kenya while potential tourist choose alternative destinations offering similar products," she said.
She also said the current poaching targeting rhinos and elephants has brought a decline in products and services quality due to declining wildlife.
Moi International Airport Mombasa received 189,632 visitors compared to 187,151 in 2012 representing a 1.3 percent growth.
Cross boarders arrivals for the year declined by 25 percent closing at 407, 964 as compared to 544,744 in 2012.
Uganda remains the highest source market for Kenya in Africa with 47,298 visitors last year compared to 55,449 in 2012 while South Africa and Tanzania come in second and third with 36,405 and 28,561 visitors respectively compared to 40,707 and 33, 309 in 2012.
China declined by 10.3 percent to 37, 062 visitors from 41, 303 in 2012, while Middle East, UAE declined by 15. 8 percent to 34, 101 arrivals from 40,485 in 2012.
Kandie however said that her ministry is taking major steps towards recovery of the industry which includes appointment of Tourism recovery Committee to oversee the sector recovers from the slump.
"The Operationalization of the Tourism Regulatory Authority will also help regulate the sector in order to ensure sustainability and competitiveness of the destination, the Tourism Regulatory Authority will address the challenges facing the sector such declining quality and standard of tourism services as well as curb illegal tourism operations," she said.
Other steps include venturing into new markets that include Nigeria, Morocco, Ghana, Rwanda and Uganda as well as domestic tourism marketing in bid to cushion the industry against seasonality and volatility associated with the international markets.