Jumia Travel’s second annual Kenya Travel Hospitality Report reveals that at 10 per cent contribution to the country’s GDP, it is more than the continent’s average of 8.1 per cent.
It is also a significant growth from 3.8 per cent GDP contribution in 2015 when travel to Kenya was hampered by a spate of terrorist attacks and subsequent travel advisories.
The sector’s contribution to employment is expected to grow by 2.9 per cent annually by 2026, contributing 9.5 per cent of total employment in the country.
This is buoyed by Kenya’s ability to continually attract hotel investments, a sign of investor confidence in its tourism sector.
The number of new hotel chains that were opened in Kenya in 2016 increased the bed count by over two thousand. They include among others Radisson Blu, Golden Tulip and Royal Tulip.
There are other luxurious hotel developments underway, some including Hilton Garden Inn, Hilton Upper Hill and Four Points Sheraton which are expected to open in 2017.
Kenya is also steadily rising as a conference and business destination with the capital Nairobi beating Johannesburg as the leading Meetings and Conference City in Africa in 2016.
For instance, the city hosted the global conferences TICAD and UNCTAD Conferences last year.
Conference tourism grew by more than three per cent to 15.6 per cent of total number of international arrivals with further growth expected in 2017.
“The government is supporting the growing MICE frontier by establishing conferencing centers of international repute like the planned center at the Bomas of Kenya,” Issa Latiff, Head of Revenue at Royal Tulip Azure noted.
Kenya’s tourism recorded improved performance in the first quarter of 2016 following high profile visits of former US President Barack Obama and the leader of the global Catholic Church Pope Francis which boosted the country’s confidence as a safe destination.
The country’s position as East Africa’s economic hub and African New Technologies hub has also bolstered Kenya as a business travel destination.
Its mobile penetration stands at 80 per cent and Internet connection at 69 per cent.
E-Commerce in Kenya is valued at Ksh4.3 billion.
The introduction of East Africa Single Tourist Visa, excluding Tanzania and Burundi, has also seen a notable increase in travel in the region as it has greatly reduced the cost of visa-acquisition, heightening the opportunity to experience multi-country packages.