China resumes group tourist travel to Kenya as COVID-19 restrictions ease
China has restarted group travels to Kenya as part of the Chinese government’s pilot scheme to resume outbound group tours to 20 countries globally.
A flight from Guangzhou, China, arrived at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport on Saturday with 205 passengers, including 40 on group travel. This marks the resumption of group travel from China to Kenya, which had been banned since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
“Today is exciting for us because it means we are now resuming full connectivity with one of our growing source markets for international tourist arrivals,” said Tourism PS John Ololtuaa at the arrival of the flight.
“China has grown into an important emerging market. Pre-pandemic, arrival numbers had been on the increase, with the destination receiving 83,180 visitors in 2018 and 83,388 in 2019.”
Kenya is one of only three African countries selected for the pilot scheme, along with Egypt and South Africa. The resumption of Chinese airlines to Kenya is expected to complement the country’s existing air connectivity and increase tourist arrivals from China.
“The Chinese market represents a huge opportunity for Kenya’s tourism industry and will only grow in coming years with more air connectivity,” said Ololtuaa.
China is Kenya’s sixth largest tourism source market and the second biggest source market in Asia, contributing 5.5% of total international tourist arrivals to the country. The rising middle class in China has created strong demand for outbound travel, presenting potential opportunities for Kenya to attract travelers from the Asian nation.
“A majority of Chinese tourists visit Kenya between July and September to see the wildebeest migration,” said Kenya Tourism Board CEO John Chrichir.
“We want them to know that Kenya is an all-year-round tourist destination by marketing all our experiences including beach, adventure, wellness, hiking, among other products so as to attract all visitors.”
China Southern Airlines will make three weekly trips from Guangzhou to Nairobi, further boosting international travel in Kenya.
The resumption of group travel from China to Kenya is an important milestone for the country’s tourism sector, and the government is working closely with stakeholders to attract more Chinese travelers to the country.