Kenya has lost its grip on the tourism market share in Africa in the last year, with competitors such as South Africa gaining ground.
According to the 2023 Kenya Market Update report published by real estate company Knight Frank, Morocco, Egypt, and South African tourist destinations have become more attractive to foreigners looking to go on safari.
Notably, visitors coming for holidays in Kenya have declined by 40% from 2021 when compared to pre-pandemic levels.
Knight Frank's projection is that Kenya could also face increasing competition from other countries in the coming years.
"Small island countries such as Seychelles and Mauritius are also taking the competition to Kenya’s doors," read the report in part.
"The international visitor arrivals are still 24.29 per cent short of the pre-pandemic peak recorded in 2019. Growth in international visitor arrivals was attributed to easing of international travel restrictions that had been in place to curb the pandemic spread."
However, despite losing its grip in the safari arena, the report revealed that Kenya is becoming a leading destination for business trips.
The report highlighted a notable 103% surge in foreign business trips from 2021 to 2022, attributing this growth to the number of international conferences hosted in the country in recent years.
Additionally, foreign visits for purposes such as volunteer work, religious missions, and sports recorded a 113% increase from 2019 to 2022.
This new trend has also been reflected in the level of bed occupancy in the industry in the last few years.
"Indeed, the number of international conferences increased by an impressive 206 per cent, from 292 in 2021 to 896 in 2022. Local conferences also increased, from 8,117 in 2021 to 9,662 in 2022 – a 19 per cent rise," the report observed.
"2022 registered an improvement in the overall rate of bed occupancy, rising to 26 per cent, from 20 per cent in 2021. This signals recovery signs in the hospitality sector that has been on the upswing since 2021."
Some of the international conferences that have been held in Kenya this year include the Africa Climate Summit which was attended by over 10 presidents and over 16,000 international delegates.
Kenya also hosted the African Union (AU) Mid-year Summit in July
This year, there are other significant conferences on the horizon, including the International Conference on Robotics and Smart Manufacturing (ICROSMA) and the International Conference on Green Energy and Technology (ICGET), both scheduled to be held in September.