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U.S. visitors overtake UK as Kenya tourism looks up

Thursday, October 20, 2016 - 01:29

Kenya is seeing a steady rise in visitor numbers after a tourism slump, amid ongoing challenges of restructuring at its main carrier, Kenya Airways. Ross Miklaszewicz reports.

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The sun, sea and sand are once again drawing tourists to Kenya. In the first six months of 2016, arrivals to the East African country rose by 15 percent. But now it's American, not European visitors who are seeking out luxury camps on the Safari trails. (SOUNDBITE) (English) KENYA TOURISM CABINET SECRETARY, NAJIB BALALA, SAYING: "We have seen the source market trends have changed. We were exclusively European - that was the UK, Germany, France and Italy - but now it has changed. Now the number one source market is becoming the United States and that is very impressive because we don't even have a direct flight to the United States." Since 2011, tourist numbers have plunged following a spate of attacks by Islamist extremists. And one of the biggest casualties was the partly state-owned carrier, Kenya Airways. A $700 million restructuring package has involved reducing the size of its fleet - angering pilots and crew. They threatened strike action earlier this week. (SOUNDBITE) (English) KENYA TOURISM CABINET SECRETARY, NAJIB BALALA, SAYING: "The government has invested recently almost 25 billion Kenya shillings into salvaging Kenya Airways because it is employing our pilots and our crew and supports the economy so our commitment is there" The government's target is 1.7 million visitors - a 20 percent rise on the previous year. But the industry's expected take at least another two years to fully recover.

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U.S. visitors overtake UK as Kenya tourism looks up

Thursday, October 20, 2016 - 01:29