Kenya’s 2010 tourist arrivals to set record


NAIROBI – Kenya’s tourist arrivals rose to 483,000 in the first half of 2010, officials said on Monday, putting east Africa’s largest economy on track to beat record foreign visitor numbers set in 2007.

Tourism is Kenya’s second-largest foreign exchange earner after horticulture and tea exports.

“We are fully recovered and on a growth trajectory,” Muriithi Ndegwa, head of the Kenya Tourist Board, told Reuters in an interview.

In 2008, post-election violence hurt Kenyan tourism, and then the global economic slowdown hit.

In the first half of 2007, 477,000 tourists visited the country, which is popular for its safari parks and beaches.

“We are above our benchmark year. God willing and barring any negative incidents, we see tourism growing this year and surpassing the level we saw in 2007,” Ndegwa said.

Kenya had 1,048,000 visitors in 2007, and around 953,000 last year.

The country earned 62.46 billion shillings from tourism in 2009, down from a record 65.4 billion in 2007 before the country plunged into ethnic violence following a disputed election.

The country is due to promulgate a new constitution next week in the hope of avoiding similar violence in future.