The Kenyan tourism industry has bounced back in a big way, exceeding pre-pandemic revenue in 2023, according to the country’s tourism ministry. Overall revenue surged by 31.5%, reaching 352.5 billion shillings (roughly $2.7 billion USD). This positive trend comes after a difficult few years due to COVID-19 restrictions.

The number of visitors to Kenya also significantly rose in 2023, with 1.95 million tourists setting foot in the East African nation. This represents a year-on-year increase, but an interesting detail is that per capita tourist spending has dipped slightly despite the rise in visitor numbers. The reason? The depreciation of the Kenyan shilling against major currencies.

While per capita spending dipped, it’s important to remember that Kenya still attracts diverse tourists. The United States remains the top source market, with over 265,000 Americans visiting Kenya in 2023, surpassing pre-pandemic numbers. Regional neighbours Uganda, and Tanzania, and the United Kingdom also feature prominently on the list of top source markets.

Looking at the reasons for travel, most visitors came for leisure (45%), followed closely by those visiting friends and relatives (24%). Business travel and MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Exhibitions) also made up a sizable chunk (24%) of total arrivals. This marks a general decline from 2022, with the exception of leisure travel.

The Kenyan tourism ministry is optimistic about the future, targeting to welcome 2.4 million tourists in 2024. To achieve this goal, Kenya recently implemented a simplified visa-free entry system for a select group of countries to further entice visitors.

With its stunning wildlife parks, idyllic beaches, and rich cultural heritage, Kenya is again solidifying its position as a must-visit destination in East Africa.