Return of political calm, revision of negative travel advisory, and increased demand for accommodation saw the country’s hospitality industry expand by 0.94 per cent during the first half of the year.
Data from Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) shows that international arrivals hit 443,950 for the period January to June 2018, from 439,807 during the same time last year.
The growth is attributed to the cooling of political temperatures, revision of negative travel advisories that warned international citizens from visiting Kenya.
Other contributing factors include increased demand for accommodation and other hospitality services by both local and international guests, with the number of international arrivals growing by 16.7 per cent from 1.2 million in 2015 to 1.4 million in 2017.
Sector analysts further said the positive reviews from travel advisories such as Trip Advisor, which ranked Nairobi as the third best place to visit in 2018, also contributed to this, as well as promotions from various campaign projects.
They include British Euro-Afro Vocals Kenya campaign project that aims to market the country’s cultural tourism and material culture in the United Kingdom.
“In light of this, we are still confident of our forecast of an 11 percent increase in international arrivals from 1.45 million in 2017 to 1.61 million arrivals in 2018, which will result in high occupancies and revenues in the hotel sector,” said analysts at private equity investments firm Cytonn.
In an earlier report published in February, the firm had indicated that with stabilising political environment, improved security and continued marketing, they expected an 11 percent increase in international arrivals for both business and holiday purposes in 2018.
Despite the expected increase in room and bed supply, the said factors and the continued growth of Meetings, Incentives, Conferencing and Exhibition (MICE) and domestic tourism would result in better performance of the hospitality sector this year.
The analysts said they expect bed occupancy rates to rise by 1.4 percentage points.
Another report by audit firm Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PWC) dubbed “PWC Hotels Outlook 2018 — 2022”, showed that the increase in the development of new hotels and the refurbishment of existing ones is an indication of confidence in Kenya’s economic growth.
The report pointed out that several new properties under development in Nairobi and some upcountry towns indicate a targeted effort to attract increasing numbers of business travellers who may require specific services like conferencing facilities.
“Increasing business travellers’ demand is driven by Nairobi’s position as an East Africa commercial hub and the multiplier effect of devolved government including county economic development,” the report stated.
Recently, several airlines announced plans to increase the frequency of their trips to Nairobi.
Notable airlines, which made such announcements included Air France which increased its flight frequency between Paris and Nairobi from three per week to five.
Ethiopian Airline doubled its Mombasa flights from Addis Ababa. Jambojet increased frequency of its Nairobi-Kisumu flights to 24 flights from 20 per week.
Also, Silverstone Airline launched daily flights to Mombasa and the Maasai Mara.
Analysts said the increase in the frequency of flights indicates a gain in popularity of air travel, which is attributable to an increase in holiday travels, as well as an increase in MICE conferences.
Likewise, improved infrastructure, such as upgrading airports to international status, like in Kisumu, and Isiolo, and construction of another terminal at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA).
Another contributing factor is a rise in living standards as the middle-income class grows, and competitive fares as a result of a rapidly growing air travel industry.