Kenya’s international arrivals have grown by 18.4% since Ruto assumed office – Isaac Mwaura

Thursday, January 18th, 2024 15:04 | By
Kenya's international arrivals have grown by 18.4% since Ruto assumed office - Isaac Mwaura
Government Spokesperson Isaac Mwaura during a past press conference. PHOTO/Isaac Mwaura(@MwauraIsaac1)/X

The government has announced a sharp rise in international arrivals over the last 16 months, attributing this increase to policies introduced by the Kenya Kwanza administration.

Speaking during a press conference in Nairobi on Thursday, January 18, Government Spokesperson Isaac Mwaura announced that Kenya had recorded an 18.42 per cent growth in domestic arrivals since President William Ruto assumed office in September 2022.

According to Mwaura, Kenya received 273,412 more visitors during the period, boosting the government's revenue collected from the tourism sector.

He projected that the numbers would continue to rise following the implementation of the visa-free entry scheme for foreigners early this month.

"Tourism is the 4th foreign exchange earner in our country. In fact, we pride ourselves as a very hospitable country, with our slogan ‘hakuna matata’ being a global catchphrase for international travel. Our country is now visa free meaning that we shall have more visitors coming into our country going forward," Mwaura said at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) while highlighting the government's achievements.

"For example, international arrivals have grown by 18.42% in the last 16 months meaning that our country received 273.412 more visitors. This means that more money was injected into the economy of our country."

At the same time, Mwaura revealed that the number of days that tourists spend in Kenya had increased by one day from 10 to 11 days.

"The more they stay, the more they are spending. Actually, the country was able to rake in an additional Ksh 650 million from this sector alone, due to the fact that spending in hotels has also increased by 3% with regards to bed occupancy," the former nominated senator added.

He pledged Kenya's commitment to strengthening the tourism sector by protecting indigenous species.

"Tourists come to Kenya primarily to see animals. The government is thus putting in place measures to ensure that the endangered species don’t become extinct such as the northern rhino whose current population is only two in the country," Mwaura averred.

He announced more training opportunities for youths to boost the growth of the sector.

"Our country has also increased training opportunities for 1,044 youth under the Kenya Kwanza administration in the tourism sector. These graduates will help support this growing sector of the economy, whose full potential is yet to be realized," he added.

"For example, the Ronald Ngala Utalii Training College that will be opened in June this year will have a capacity to train 5,000 youth at a go. The focus is to make the college a centre of excellence on export labour to countries such as Saudi Arabia; that is building a new city, requiring 350,000 workers! This is indeed a great opportunity for those who are jobless!"

At the same time, Mwaura revealed that the country has become a popular destination for international meetings, incentives, Conferences and Exhibition (MICE) travel.

"Last year alone, our local and international conferences hit the 10,000 mark with an increase of 2,151 conferences, and over 14,000 delegates from around the world came in," Mwaura stated.

Mwaura's sentiments come even as Ruto's administration faces criticism over the new visa-free entry policy.

Some critics argue that the new policy has created confusion and made travel to Kenya tougher and costlier. 

While the country grants visa-free entry, visitors are required to apply for electronic travel authorisation (ETA) by submitting documentation and paying a $30 (£23) processing fee.

The requirement also applies to countries whose citizens previously had unrestricted access to Kenya, sparking protests from affected nationals.

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