Branding Kenya as a preferred tourist destination seems to have paid off as a report released by international card payment company, Visa, says traveller’s spending in the country increased by 14 percent in 2011.

Visa credited the enhanced visibility of Point of Sale (PoS) machines at merchant outlets, increase in the number of international payment systems solutions provider, consumer education and  partner acquisition as some of the factor that aid the tourist increase. It also said that efforts by the government through the Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) to market the country as a preferred tourist destination also played an important role in raising the country’s profile globally, thereby attracting more business and leisure travellers.

The Visa’s travel data revealed that international Visa cardholders increased tourism spending from 32.9 billion shillings ($460 million) in 2010 to 37.6 billion shillings ($440 million) in 2011 while the total individual transactions rose 19.6 percent from 161.5 million shillings ($2 million) in 2010 to 187 million shillings ($2.1 million) in the same year.

While spending of top tourist to the country – German, United States and United Kingdom increased by 30.2, 12.9 percent and 4.8 percent respectively; significant spending increase were also peculiar among visitors from South Africa and Australia with  25.4 percent and 30.2 percent accordingly.

Most of this spending swelled during the month of July, August and December 2011 with visitors spending 19 percent, 22.3 percent and 20.1 percent more.

“The rise in visitor spending is good news for the economy because more people are coming to see the wonders of Kenya and it’s a credit to the efforts of those promoting Kenya as a prime tourist destination,” Visa Country Manager for Southern and East Africa Jabu Basopo says.

Tourists to the East Africa nation spent 20.8 percent more on air travel in 2011 and 20.6 percent more on other travel and entertainment, while retailers in general merchandise like clothing, wines and liquor, antiques and jewellery raked in 22.8 percent more from traveler spending during the same period.

Kenyans also increased their spending on their Visa cards in 2011 by 13.7 percent with total spend up from Sh7.7 billion to Sh8.7 billion and total transaction volume rose by 12.7 percent. Top three destinations for Kenyan tourists were the United Kingdom, South Africa and the United Arab Emirates with the latter seeing a sharp increase in spend of over 20 percent and this amount to a third of the spending of Kenyan travelers abroad, the Visa Travel data indicated.

The peak months for overseas travel by Kenyan Visa cardholders, according to Visa travel data, were July, October and December 2011.

“Not only are more people visiting Kenya, but thanks to the growing prosperity of our country, we are spending more as we travel the world,” Basopo said.


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