The US was the top market for Kenya for foreign arrivals from January to September this year, according to the Kenya Tourism Research Institute’s January-September 2019 tourism performance report.

The report highlights international arrival statistics breakdown by points of entry, the Top 30 source markets, the Top 10 source markets in comparison with January-September 2018 and regional markets performance, also compared with January-September 2018.

Business Dailyreported that, according to the research institute, the rise in US numbers was linked to the sustained growth of direct flights, e-visa process and marketing campaigns.

Kenya Airways, during its first year of flying between Nairobi and New York, completed 594 non-stop flights and ferried over 105 000 passengers. The airline has signed several codeshare agreements with more on the cards that will further assist it to penetrate the US market.

“There is little doubt that Kenya Airways’ new direct service between JFK in New York and Jomo Kenyatta in Nairobi has been a very positive development and, combined with the trade’s collective marketing efforts, has done wonders to grow this already strong market. Now Kenya is just an overnight flight away from the US and travellers can be on safari in the Maasai Mara in time for lunch,” says, Nicky Fitzgerald, CEO of Angama Mara.

Fitzgerald highlights that the US has always been a leading source market for Kenya, noting that this trend has definitely continued into 2019. American arrivals accounted for about 50% of Angama Mara’s revenue this year.

“Looking ahead into 2020 we anticipate that the US market will continue along this positive trajectory, but at the same time we plan to focus on marketing Kenya in emerging and other established markets as well. In particular, sentiment is very good in the UK, Latin America and the Middle East.”

Of the top-10 source markets from January 1 to September 30, the US (188 933) ranked first, Uganda second with 161 963 visitors and Tanzania third, with 142 249. South Africa was the tenth top market for the east African country, with 34 343 travellers.

The UK, India, China, Germany, France and Italy also ranked among the top ten.

Read more from Tourism Update