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Kenya's tourism industry to receive a boost from Obama visit

Despite a decline in arrivals over the first half of 2015, US president Barack Obama's recent visit to Kenya sparked a sense of optimism across Kenya's tourism industry. Officials are forecasting a notable increase in arrivals from the US in Q3 and Q4 2015 as Obama's visit is expected to have boosted confidence in Kenya as a safe holiday destination.

Kenya's tourism industry to receive a boost from Obama visit

Over the past two years, Kenya's tourism industry has suffered a decline. Recent figures for the first half of 2015 showed an 18.9 per cent decline when compared with the same period in 2014.

The number of US citizens taking holidays in Kenya plummeted by 28 per cent from 46,224 to 38,897 visitors. Despite the downward trend, Kenyan officials are hoping that US president Barack Obama's recent visit to Kenya at the end of July will spark renewed interest and confidence in Kenya as a top holiday destination.

Chairman of the Kenya Coast Tourist Association and CEO of Heritage Hotels, Mohammed Hersi was optimistic that arrivals from the US would increase in the second half of 2015 stating:

"It is not every day that a sitting US president will visit a country. We count ourselves very lucky, and this visit is a stamp of approval that Kenya is ready for business and safe for tourists and visitors alike."

Hersi went on to speculate that Kenya would be able to either meet or exceed 2014's 100,000 US visitors. According to Hersi, one additional factor that would serve to boost arrivals from the US is the availability of direct flights between Kenya and the US with Delta Airlines the furthest along in the plans to get the service up and running.

The Kenyan Tourism Board (KTB) also publicly expressed optimism that Kenya's tourism industry was set for a recovery. KTB spokesperson Kimutai Ngeno noted that arrivals in June had in fact increased by 33.5 per cent over the same month in 2014 with 63, 154 visitors. Mr Ngeno commented:

"This growth is an indication that trends should change for the better as this is the first time growth has been experienced this year comparing month-on-month data."

Further boosting the positive outlook among key tourism stakeholders in Kenya has been the Kenyan government's decision to pump $51 million into facilitating the recovery of Kenya's tourism industry. Reportedly some of the funds will be allocated towards marketing including the recruitment of international celebrities to help promote Kenya as a top African safari destination.

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