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Kenya recording more visitors with increase in tourism earnings

by Chrispinus Omar NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya’s tourism sector recorded a 17-percent growth in earnings in 2016, buoyed by more overseas tourists from countries like the United States, India and China, an official said Monday.

Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala said Kenya recorded 877,602 visitors last year, up from 752,073 visitors in 2015.

The minister attributed the growth and recovery of the sector to a series of new measures to improve security and efforts to stimulate the sector’s demand by removing taxes, relaxing visa rules and improving infrastructure.

"I am happy to report that 2016 arrivals and receipts signal better times ahead for a sector that had been beset by insecurity and other challenges," Balala said.

The East African nation suffered a major slump in the tourism sector after a series of terror attacks targeting Nairobi and tourist resorts in Lamu and Mombasa.

Balala said the sector last year recorded revenues of 1 billion U.S. dollars, an extra 120 million dollars, from the tourists who arrived in Kenya mostly through the air and seaports.

According to figures released by Balala, China has prominently grown to contribute 5 percent of all tourists coming to Kenya, coming after Kenya’s neighbor Uganda.

Another growing source of Kenya’s tourist arrivals is other African countries, which contributed nearly 29 percent of all tourists visiting Kenya in 2016, according to the minister.

The minister spoke during the launch of the International Year for Sustainable Tourism for Development, an initiative of the UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), to promote sustainable tourism across the country’s vast wildlife parks and sanctuaries.

"We are a leader in tourism. We confirmed our credentials in environmental conservation by burning 100 tonnes of ivory to make a statement against poaching," Balala said.

Kenya, the minister said, relied upon the preservation of nature to meet the demands of 80 percent of Kenyan tourists.


Kenya to promote home stays in new tourism package

by Chrispinus Omar NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya will begin the promotion of home stays in a new tourism package aiming to boost sustainable growth and environmental conservation, an official said Monday.

Cabinet Secretary of Tourism Ministry Najib Balala said the home stays, promotion of cultural troupes and large-scale sale of community-produced artistic work would become the hallmarks of efforts to promote green growth.

"We are committed to the sustainability labels in our tourism products," Balala said when launching Kenya’s celebrations to the 2017 Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development in Nairobi.

The East African nation is emphasizing home stays as a tourism approach to lend more efforts to the preservation of local cultures, which it hopes would continue to act as a motivator to tourists to visit local communities.

Kenyan officials have emphasized the need to conserve wildlife and marine resources.

"We plan to launch several activities as we celebrate the innovative tourism.

"We believe a well-managed tourism sector would place green growth at our disposal and help us to better manage the effects of climate change," said Principal Secretary of Tourism Ministry Fatuma Hirsi Mohamed.

Kenyan officials said the implementation of measures to improve sustainable tourism was crucial in enabling the country to attract investments to conserve forests and other facilities that back tourism.



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