(eTN) – “We have it in our hands now to make this another record-breaking year,” was the comment of a regular contributor and source from Nairobi, Kenya, when discussing the latest arrival data for the first half of 2011.
There were 549,083 foreign visitors recorded to have arrived in Kenya during the first 6 months of the year, traditionally the slower time as it includes the traditional low season, while the second half of the year is normally the stronger half. The trend at present is a strong 13.6 percent up compared with the previous record year of 2010. Should the Kenya shilling stay in the 90 range vis-a-vis the US dollar, earnings could race deep into the 90 billion shillings range and under best circumstances even exceed 100 billion Kenya shillings for the first time ever, reclaiming the top spot from the tea industry, which had in the recent past overtaken earnings from tourism.
Sources in both Mombasa and Nairobi were cautiously optimistic over the prospects for 2011, but almost everyone polled was conscious of factors beyond their or Kenya’s control, like global economic developments, the cost of fuel, economic recovery and stability in the Euro Zone – a key market place for Kenya – before equally agreeing that “if all goes well and without hiccups, we will indeed have a new record year for Kenya Tourism.”
Rwanda in the context of East Africa is leading the pack with a nearly 30 percent increase in arrivals over the first half of 2011. No current half-year figures are available as yet from Uganda, while Tanzania is said to be slightly ahead of last year’s arrivals. Burundi is trailing and no figures, as usual one sadly has to add, are available on tourist arrivals for the EAC’s smallest economy.