(Bloomberg) -- Kenya’s earnings from tourism surged 32% to 352.5 billion shillings ($2.7 billion) last year as increased arrivals drove revenue to the highest since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Visitors to the East African nation climbed 32% to 1.95 million in 2023, according to the government’s Tourism Research Institute. Arrivals are forecast to reach 2.38 million this year. 

The top five tourist sources markets for Kenya were the US, Uganda, Tanzania, UK and India. The leading reason for travel to the country was for a holiday at 45%, followed by visiting family and relatives at 24% and meetings and conferences at 24%. Although more people visited in 2023 compared to the previous year, they spent less on average during their visits, partly due to depreciation of the Kenya shilling against the major currencies during the year, according to the report. 

“The country will be able to achieve the government vision of attracting 5 million tourists by 2028,” the agency said in a report. 

Earnings and the number of visitors fell short of the government’s target of 425.4 billion shillings and 2.35 million arrivals. Tourism is Kenya’s third-biggest driver of foreign exchange earnings after remittances and agricultural exports. Kenya, known for iconic safaris featuring animals from wildebeests to elephants and lions as well as sand beaches off the Indian ocean coastline, is looking to promote other attractions such as its cuisine and sport.

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