The Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya is one of the leading tourist sites in Africa. / Photo: Reuters

Revenue from tourism in Kenya jumped nearly a third in 2023 over the previous year beating the pre-pandemic numbers, according to the tourism ministry.

Kenya has been a major tourist destination in East Africa traditionally attracting visitors from across the world to its wildlife parks and Indian Ocean beaches.

A ministry report seen by AFP on Sunday said revenue rose 31.5% last year to hit 352.5 billion shillings (nearly $2.7 billion).

But per capita spending in dollar terms by the 1.95 million visitors fell.

Depreciation of Kenyan currency

"Despite the increase in the number of visitors in 2023 as compared to 2022, the average per capita expenditure in US dollars decreased significantly," the report said.

"This is partly attributed to the sustained depreciation of the Kenya shilling against the major currencies."

Before the coronavirus pandemic, tourism brought in about $2.24 billion in 2019 from two million visitors, or about 10% of GDP.

Americans accounted for the largest number of 2023 arrivals at 265,310, followed by Ugandans (201,623), Tanzanians (157,818) and 156,700 from the United Kingdom.

'Visa-free' system

The ministry hopes to welcome 2.4 million tourists this year.

In January, Kenya's immigration services said the first batch of foreign tourists had arrived under a simplified "visa-free" entry system it hoped would encourage more visitors.

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