29-01-2022 by Freddie del Curatolo
The data from the Kenyan Ministry of Tourism regarding the influx of visitors to the country are flattering and bear witness to the slow recovery of tourism compared with the vertical collapse of 2020, but mercilessly point out a fact that concerns us: for the first time in 30 years, Italy is no longer in the Top 10 nations that take vacations in Kenya.
Clearly, the ban by the Italian government, which has included Kenya, like all African countries (excluding Rwanda), in the so-called "Fascia E" where it is forbidden to travel for tourism, has had an exponential effect. In Europe, even some of the more permissive nations, such as Germany and France, have far exceeded the number of our compatriots (Germany has more than doubled its numbers, 27,620 compared with Italy's 12,207), while Holland, Spain and even Sweden are on the same level.
Thus, considering tourist travelers who arrive in Kenya by plane (otherwise we would have to include in this category also Ugandans, Tanzanians, Sudanese, Somalis and Ethiopians, i.e. the neighboring nations), the data for 2021 in general are heartening, because it goes from 568,848 tourist entry visas in 2020 to 870,465 in the year just ended. It is clear that looking back at the year before the pandemic, 2019 with its 2 million 48 thousand entries, there is still crying, but those who speak of slow recovery and a plan to return in 2024 to pre-pandemic numbers have a point and hopefully will not be branded as too optimistic sooner or later. The subdivision of the type of tourism, judging by the motivations inserted in the online visas, for 35% is pure pleasure travel, for 26% linked to business, conferences and fairs and for 30% visits to friends and relatives, repeaters or homeowners. The other reasons are divided between volunteer work, health and religious travel, with 5% having used Kenya in transit.
In detail, then, Italy for the first time is outside the top ten, exactly in twelfth position. Despite frequent travel restrictions and interruptions, the United States is the leading exporter of tourists, with 136,981 visitors, followed by the United Kingdom, with 53,264, India and China with 42,159 and 31,610 visitors, respectively. In fifth place is Germany. The other Schengen area country to enter the top ten is France (eighth), which precedes South Africa and Canada in the top ten. Before Italy, in eleventh place, is Holland and immediately after other rising markets such as Spain, Poland, Switzerland and Belgium.
These are precisely the markets on which the Minister of Tourism Najib Balala said he wants to focus with targeted marketing in the coming months.
"We will focus on markets that are not yet fully exploited," said Balala, "with aggressive marketing campaigns. Some of the markets have not ranked very well previously, but they have the potential to grow tremendously as we continue on the road to full recovery."
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