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Foreign Visa card spending up in Kenya

International Visa cardholders increased tourism spending from USD386.7 million (KES 32.9 billion) in 2010 to USD442 million (KES 37.6 billion) in 2011. According to Visa’s travel data, the total individual transactions rose 19.6% from KES 161.5 million in 2010 to KES 187 million in 2011.

Visa Country Manager for Southern and East Africa, Jabu Basopo, says the rise in visitor spending is good news for the Kenyan economy.

“More people are coming to see the wonders of Kenya and it’s a credit to the efforts of those promoting Kenya as a prime tourist destination,” said Basopo.

Of the top three source markets, German tourists increased their spending by 30.2% over the same period. This was followed by the United States, up 12.9%, and the United Kingdom at 4.8% higher.

There was also a notably sharp increase in spending from Australian visitors with a rise of 30.2 percent, as well as those from South Africa going up 25.4%.

Kenya reaped more from strong spending in the peak tourist months of July, August and December 2011 with visitors spending 19, 22.3 and 20.1% more respectively.  

Inbound travelers spent 20.8% more on air travel in 2011 and 20.6% more on other travel and entertainment. Retailers in general merchandise like clothing, wines and liquor, antiques and jewelry raked in 22.8% more from traveler spending during the same period.

According to Visa, increased consumer education and partner acquisition, coupled with enhanced visibility of point of sale (POS) machines at merchant outlets has contributed to the increased traveler spend.

Efforts by the Kenyan government through the Kenya Tourist Board to market Kenya as a preferred tourist destination have also significantly raised the country’s profile globally, thus attracting more business and leisure travelers.

Kenyans Travelling Overseas 

Kenyans increased their spending on their Visa cards in 2011 by 13.7%, with total spend up from USD90.6 million (KES 7.7 bn) to USD103 million. And total transaction volume rose by 12.7%.  

Basopo continued: “Not only are more people visiting Kenya, but thanks to the growing prosperity of our country, we are spending more as we travel the world.”

According to Visa travel data, the top three destinations for Kenyan tourists were the United Kingdom, South Africa and the United Arab Emirates with the latter seeing a sharp increase in spend of over 20%.

These three markets accounted for more than a third (36.1%) of total spending by Kenyans traveling abroad. The peak months for overseas travel by Kenyan Visa cardholders, according to Visa travel data, were July, October and December 2011.

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