NAIROBI, Kenya — Kenya's tourism earnings soared by 18 percent in 2009, edging close to the record levels that prevailed before the December 2007 electoral violence, the Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) said Friday.
In sharp contrast to the global tourism slump during a year marked by the financial crisis, tourist arrivals to Kenya climbed 30 percent in 2009, KTB Managing Director Mureithi Ndegwa told reporters.
"The 2009 results resonate well with our strategic plan to recover the numbers of 2007 as you will note that the sector surpassed our projections for the year," he said.
Ndegwa said that earnings rose from 52 billion shillings (685 million dollars) in 2008 to 62.4 billion shillings (810 million dollars) last year, while arrivals soared from 729,000 to 952,841 over the same period.
2007 remains Kenya's best-performing year with earnings at 65.4 billion shillings (851 million dollars) and arrivals topping a million.
Tourism is the top foreign currency earner for East Africa's largest economy and was badly affected by tribal and police violence that erupted in December 2007 after disputed elections and left around 1,500 people dead.
Ndegwa said aggressive marketing campaigns over the past two years helped the sector claw its way back towards pre-crisis levels.
"A lot of reassurance missions were done and people went down to the source markets reassuring the tourists that Kenya is safe and an ideal destination for them to experience," he said.
A UN World Tourism Organisation report last month said international tourist arrivals fell by an estimated 4.0 percent in 2009, to 880 million, but should recover to grow by 3.0 to 4.0 percent in 2010.
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