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July 20, 2019

Kenya Travel & Tourism exceeding global and regional levels in 2018


Travel & Tourism in Kenya grew faster than the regional average and significantly above other economies in Sub-Saharan Africa, according to new research from the World Travel & Tourism Council.

In 2018, Travel & Tourism grew 5.6% to contribute KSHS 790 billion and 1.1 million jobs to the Kenyan economy. This rate of growth is faster than the global average of 3.9% and the Sub-Saharan Africa average of 3.3%.eTN Chatroom: Discuss with readers from around the world:


This makes Kenya the third largest tourism economy in Sub-Saharan Africa after South Africa and Nigeria both of which grew substantially less than Kenya in 2018.

In total, international tourists spent over KSHS 157 billion in Kenya last year, accounting for over 15% of total exports. The largest inbound international markets were the USA (11%); UK (9%); India (6%); China (4%); and Germany (4%). Combined with domestic spending, Travel & Tourism supported 8.8% of the nation’s GDP in 2018.

For over 25 years, the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), which represents the global private sector of Travel & Tourism, has produced the authoritative research on the economic contribution of the sector. This year’s research shows that:

  • Travel & Tourism in Kenya grew at 5.6% last year – ahead of the global average of 3.9%
  • This contributed 8.8% to Kenya’s GDP, worth KSHS 790 billion (or US$7.9 billion dollars) when all direct, indirect and induced effects are taken in to consideration
  • Travel & Tourism is responsible for 8.3% of all Kenya’s employment, or 1.1 million jobs
  • GDP contribution is projected to grow by 5.9% in 2019

Speaking from a press conference in Nairobi, Kenya, WTTC President & CEO Gloria Guevara said, “Africa is one of the great success stories of global travel as the second fastest growing region in the world – and Kenya lies at the heart of the region, a popular and renowned destination that has seen huge growth in tourism activity and value over the past year.”

“I would like to particularly acknowledge the vision of President Uhuru Kenyatta and his commitment to Travel & Tourism as a means of driving economic growth and alleviating poverty. The Ministry of Tourism & Wildlife, under the leadership of Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala, must be congratulated for growing tourism at a rate above the global and regional average and for attracting over two million international visitors for the first time in 2018.

Speaking at the event, Cabinet Secretary for Tourism and Wildlife, Hon. Najib Balala elaborated on the gains of the sector and expressed his satisfaction on the overall achievement of this key sector that contributes substantively to the economy.

“The gains of the sector are as a result of co-ordinated efforts between various arms of government, whom the tourism sector has engaged, as well as the concerted efforts in marketing Kenya as a destination of choice,” CS Balala pointed out.

About the World Travel & Tourism Council

WTTC is the body which represents the Travel & Tourism private sector globally. Members consist of CEOs of the world’s Travel & Tourism companies, destinations, and industry organizations engaging with Travel & Tourism.

WTTC has a history of 25 years of research to quantify the economic impact of the sector in 185 countries. Travel & Tourism is a key driver for investment and economic growth globally. The sector contributes US$8.8 trillion or 10.4% of global GDP, and accounts for 319 million jobs or one in ten of all jobs on the planet.

For over 25 years, WTTC has been the voice of this industry globally. Members are the Chairs, Presidents and Chief Executives of the world’s leading, private sector Travel & Tourism businesses, who bring specialist knowledge to guide government policy and decision-making and raise awareness of the importance of the sector.

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