The hospitality industry is lauded as one of the top three revenue earners among Kenya’s economic sectors and has continued to post impressive results year on year. In 2017, Kenya earned 1.2 billion US Dollars from tourism expenditures, up from approximately 989 million US Dollars in 2016; representing a 20% increase. While it has encountered challenges in between, the sector has been resilient and can now be said to have become mature such that it is not easily shaken by market volatilities. With such high revenue earnings, the sector is at the epicentre of funding Kenya’s development agenda.
Buoying this growth are the international and domestic tourists whose numbers have continued to grow over time as vacationers are looking for exciting destinations to while away. According to the Kenya Economic Report 2018 released by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS), hotel bed-nights occupancy rose by 11% to 7.2 million in 2017 from 6.4 million in 2016. Domestic travellers also increased by 16% with Kenyans taking up approximately 4 million bed nights in 2017 from 3.5 million in 2016. Domestic travel spending still remains king generating 62% of direct Travel & Tourism GDP in 2017 as foreign spending contributed 38%. International arrivals to Kenya, on the other hand, reached 1.4 million as compared to 1.3 million in the previous year, representing an increase of 9.8% despite a bumpy electioneering period. Europe (36%) topped the list of tourists who thronged Kenya in 2017, followed by Africa (29%) and the Americas (15%). Amid this dazzling numbers, one would like to know the most visited regions in the country. So, which destinations in Kenya are popular?
Top Local Destinations
According to the Jumia Hospitality Report Kenya 2018, the top five destinations are Mombasa, Nairobi, Diani, Naivasha and Nakuru. “Mombasa and Diani were extremely popular during the end of year festive season and some long weekends,” quipped Cyrus Onyiego, Country Manager, Jumia Travel. “Naivasha and Nakuru are usually very popular for the weekends, but also for some business trips,” he concluded. On the other hand, Nairobi remains the most booked destination for people coming from outside the country as well as from local business people living in other Kenyan cities. In 2018, these 5 destinations are still showing a very strong lead in popularity, with a growing demand for Kisumu, Malindi, and Eldoret.
The Hospitality Industry Report 2018 released by Jumia Travel also revealed interesting statistics uncovering the psychology of travellers looking for accommodation. In terms of gender, more men (53%) are travelling as compared to women (47%). When broken down in age groups, 25-34-year-olds are the ones travelling most. When it comes to payment methods, the majority (54%) still prefer to pay at the hotel, 26% prefer paying via mobile money and 14% would like to pay via debit/credit cards. When evaluating accommodation options using amenities, priority is given to establishments with Wi-Fi, swimming pool and breakfast. On flight destinations in the country, Nairobi to Mombasa is the most frequented route, while Tanzania is the top outbound destination from Kenya.
The future of the hospitality industry in Kenya holds great promise for all the players along the value chain more so investors who are devoting capital in holiday accommodation facilities in tourism hotspots around the country. Now that domestic tourism has surpassed international tourism in revenue generation, concerted efforts to promote local travel will persist. Other areas of opportunity include increasing entry of hotel chains, thus contributing to employment, the presence of low-cost airlines and the introduction of the KQ direct flights to US and implementation of the free border policy by African governments, thus reducing visa restrictions. In conclusion, players in the holiday homes segment and other accommodation providers should use the insights from the report to provide a greater customer experience that will see their business growing to greater heights.
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