Kenya’s Q3 tourist arrivals surge as sector recovers


Kenya’s international tourist arrivals through its two major airports surged 489 percent in the 3rd quarter compared to the same period of 2020, with the sector showing recovery amid increased local and global COVID-19 vaccinations, according to data released on Monday.

Kenya’s main international airport in Nairobi, the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. /Getty Images

The east African nation received 217,873 tourists through Jomo Kenyatta airport in Nairobi and Moi airport in Mombasa between July and September, up from 36,978 in the same period in 2020, the data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) indicated.

Najib Balala, the cabinet secretary of the Ministry of Tourism, said in a recent interview that the government is encouraged by the rising tourist arrivals amid the challenges brought about by the pandemic. Most of the tourists arrived in Kenya through the airport in Nairobi as Kenya ramped up its COVID-19 vaccinations and lifted various restrictions.

Kenya on October 20 lifted a dusk-to-dawn curfew and allowed free operation of hotels and other entertainment spots, giving a boost to the tourism sector.

Between January and September, Kenya received 452,919 tourists through the two airports, up from 327,526 in 2020, according to KNBS. Most of the tourists came in the third quarter. The Ministry of Tourism noted that besides the two airports, some tourists also came by sea and chartered flights, but the numbers were minimal.

Kenya aims to vaccinate at least 10 million adults by the end of the year. With the government having lifted COVID-19 restrictions and administered 6.4 million vaccines as of November 20, the country’s prospects have brightened for the tourism sector ahead of the festive season, according to the health ministry.

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