Kenya expects 1.2 million international tourists in 2011

International tourist arrivals are expected to hit a record 1.2 million by the end of the year.

Kenya expects 1.2 million international tourists in 2011

International tourist arrivals are expected to hit a record 1.2 million by the end of the year.

This has been bolstered by the soaring number of holidaymakers from emerging markets of Eastern Europe and Asia.

Last year, tourist arrivals were the highest ever at 1,095,945 compared to 952,481 in 2009.

Hotels at the coast, lodges and camps in Maasai Mara and the Tsavo National Park are packed with guests as holidaymakers pour in for beach, wild safaris and conference tourism.

The country has also gained popularity with the arrival in recent times of international celebrities like Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho, US tennis player Serena Williams, Hollywood stars Bradd Pitt and Angelina Jolie, the Prince William and Kate Middleton, among others.

Kenya Tourist Board (KTB) managing director Muriithi Ndegwa said the marketing agency expects to achieve its target of 1.2 million tourist arrivals this year.

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Mr Ndegwa noted that the board’s diversification of source markets have paid dividends as a large number of tourists arrive from China, India, Middle East, Russia and South Africa.

KTB, he added, established websites and marketing destination representatives in emerging markets of China, Russia, India, Dubai, South Africa among others.

“Our target was to achieve a 10 per cent growth in the tourism industry this year. Hopefully we shall surpass last year’s record of 1,095,945 arrivals,” he said.

Mombasa and Coast Tourist Association chairman Mohamed Hersi agrees the industry is likely to eclipse last year’s record arrivals.

“All hotels in Malindi, Watamu and the South Coast that had closed for the low tourist season in May are back in business as Italian and Germany tourists are pouring in,” he said.

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