Tourists to Kenya, Egypt post a sharp rise in January

Egypt’s tourism sector, which was witnessing a boom before the pandemic, received a timely boost in January when Kenya sent one of the biggest delegations to Sham el Sheikh for the UN-backed climate talks.

Statistics from shows that Egypt visa applications went up by 175 percent in the month under focus coinciding with the time when the country hosted UN-backed climate talks, popularly known as COP27, where President William Ruto led one of the biggest global delegations of over 380 people from Kenya. 

Besides the Presidency, Kenya’s delegation was drawn from nearly 100 senior officials from ministries, 17 governors, four senators, 17 attendees from NGOs as well as eight delegates from the fourth estate.

January Visa applications to Egypt were also heavily boosted by the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) which send the biggest number of delegates in Africa and the third globally at 459 officials. In contrast, the US sent 136 delegates, UK (93), China (71) and India had 229 people.

Analysis of the list of people who attended the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27) in Sharm el-Sheikh, Kenya’s delegation was the second biggest in Africa and fourth globally at the forum that brought together 33,000 delegates.

Data from the agency also shows that tourists, and their wallets, are finally making a much-awaited return to Kenya, raising hopes for an industry that was left for the dead by the Covid-19 pandemic as travel curbs gripped the globe.

As Egypt benefited from Kenya’s huge team, the number of travelers seeking to come East Africa’s largest economy surged by 130 percent in January compared to a similar stage a year ago.

Overall, data from shows the number of applications by tourists is on an upward trend, a signal that visitors are no longer concerned that Covid-19 will derail their holiday and travel schedules. The agency is now projecting that international travel will spring back to normal this year.

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In its latest Monetary Policy Statement briefing, the Central Bank of Kenya noted the resumption of repayments and recoveries in tourism, restaurant, and hotels, which is also a pointer that businesses are recording significant activity after the massive closures witnessed during the pandemic.

The increase in Visa booking in Kenya is also in sync with a sustained rebound in international travel by other popular destinations for global which are also reporting a rise in visa applications.

After gradually relaxing coronavirus rules throughout 2022, the number of visa applications for these destinations has increased more than six-fold in just a year’s time: United States 53 percent, Australia 673 percent, Canada 119 percent, Egypt 175 percent, India 917 percent. Applicants seeking to enter New Zealand exploded to an astronomical 10,638 percent in January 2023.

Kenya welcomed 2.05 million tourists in 2019 earning the country about $1.76 billion, a marginal drop from the $1.78 billion received from 2.03 million visitors in 2018.

East Africa’s largest economy had projected to receive about 1.46 million foreign tourists last year, up from 871,300 reported in 2021 as international travel started marking a recovery from COVID-19 hit. In 2020, visitor numbers to Kenya dipped to a historic low of 579,600 according to Economic Survey 2022.

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