The first half of 2012 saw a 6.4-per-cent increase in revenue for Kenya’s tourism industry – Sh38.7 billion – compared with the same period in 2011 – Sh36.4 billion. Tourism minister Danson Mwazo, who announced the figures, suggested that a reduction in arrivals, coupled with controlled spending by visitors, meant that the numbers were not as high as they should have been. He also said that Europe remains the primary source market for Kenyan tourism, with a 44-per-cent market share, while Africa is second with 25 per cent and America is third representing 14 per cent of the market. The UK remains top in terms of share arrivals by air and sea. “Travel advisories by the key source markets such as UK, France and US contributed to a slight decline in the number of arrivals,” said Mwazo. “Insecurity on the coast of Somalia led to a decrease in the number of cruise ships and cancellation of charter flights also had a negative impact.” He does, however, expect figures to improve for the remainder of the year.
Meanwhile, Kenya Airways reported healthy half-year results, with a 20.6-per-cent increase compared with last year, largely driven by high demand for air travel, cargo and mail shipping, although runaway costs remain a significant problem.
Casting a shadow over these positive figures, however, is the recent news that renewed ethnic clashes in the south east of the country claimed at least 30 lives on 10 September, including children and policemen. Rival groups have been involved in violence relating to cattle-grazing rights in the Tana River district, and this latest outbreak of violence involved a mob of over 300 people attacking Kilelengwani village and setting fire to 167 homes. It follows 50 deaths from fighting in August, the worst violence since 2007’s disputed presidential elections. “The situation is getting dangerous,” said Abbas Gullet, chief of Kenya Red Cross, “something needs to be done urgently.”