from Kenya tourism The industry has started to recover from losses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the government said on Jan. 19. He said trips from locals had increased as prices were lower. The number of foreign visitors, however, is still well below pre-pandemic levels.
The tourism industry is generally one of the major earners of foreign exchange for the East African nation. The Kenyan government expects the industry to earn $1.5 billion this year. This is an increase of 18.5% over last year.
George Gitonga is the acting director general of the state-run Tourism Research Institute. He told Reuters after the figures were released: “The recovery seems to have started.”
Officials said tourism revenue fell to $781 million in 2020. This was caused by travel restrictions by governments around the world to stop the spread of the coronavirus. This included closing airspace or the means for flights to enter a country.
Tourism Minister Najib Balala said profits reached $1.29 billion last year. He added that the number of hotel nights occupied by local Kenyan travelers had doubled during this period.
Local resorts normally direct their marketing efforts towards foreign tourists. However, they have been forced to focus these efforts on the local Kenyan market during the pandemic.
The number of foreign visitors is still well below pre-pandemic levels. The number of foreign visitors in 2021 was around 870,000 compared to 2 million in 2019. They are expected to reach 1.03 million this year.
The decline in industry revenue from foreign tourists has partly caused a sharp drop in the value of the local currency, the Kenyan shilling. It is trading at historic lows against the dollar.
Gitonga said this year’s forecast for industry performance hinged on continued global efforts to vaccinate people against COVID-19. And, he added, it also depends on continued marketing efforts in traditional markets like Britain and new ones in Asia.
Popular tourist activities in Kenya include game drives in the Maasai Mara, a national park and other wildlife areas for an Indian Ocean holiday beaches. Kenya’s tourism industry accounts for around 10% of its economic output and employs over 2 million people.
The Ministry of Tourism said the industry lost nearly 1.2 million jobs after the pandemic began. But, he has started to recoup some of those losses in an eventual recovery.
Balala said: “Most jobs returned from October 2021.”
I am Gregory Stachel.
George Obulutsa reported this story for Reuters. Gregory Stachel adapted it for VOA Learning English.
words in this story
tourism – nm the business of providing hotels, restaurants or entertainment for people who travel
appeal – nm a place where people go on vacation
safari – nm a trip to see or hunt animals especially in Africa
Beach – nm an area covered in sand or small rocks next to an ocean or lake