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New Markets To Push Kenya Tourist Numbers Up

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Kenya expects a 10 percent jump in visitor numbers in the 2013-14 fiscal year, driven by a rising flow of tourists from emerging markets, the head of the industry regulator said on Friday.

The forecast indicates a rebound for the sector, Kenya's second highest income earner after agriculture, after it took a knock in the 2012-13 fiscal year (July-June) as vacationers booked elsewhere ahead of March's presidential poll.

Visitor numbers fell 9 percent last fiscal year as the ongoing financial crisis in the euro zone compounded jitters over whether there would be a repeat of the nationwide bloodletting that marred the previous election in 2008.

In the end the vote passed off peacefully in March and earlier this week the International Monetary Fund said Kenya's economic outlook had improved.

"We are optimistic we will be able to perform better," Muriithi Ndegwa, managing director of the Kenya Tourism Board (KTB), said. "There could be a growth of about 10 percent. We are also looking at growth in terms of revenue."

Kenya earned KES96.24 billion shillings (USD$1 billion) during the last fiscal year, a 7.4 percent drop from the previous year.

Ndegwa said efforts to diversify source markets and an over-reliance on traditional markets, such as Britain and the United States, had started to pay off.

Arrivals from India, a previously small market for Kenya jumped to fourth place last year. China is another market being aggressively courted by Kenya, which targets 100,000 Chinese visitors annually within three to five years from the current 40,000, Ndegwa said.

(Reuters)