Tourism numbers: Good prospects in 2023 as Kenya records a 59% increase in arrivals
Tourism numbers: Good prospects in 2023
Tourism arrivals into Kenya in the past two months of the year rose by 59.3% compared to same period last year, signaling good tidings for the sector.
During the period (January and February), Kenya received 293,440 arrivals up from 184,228 recorded in 2022.
In terms of point of entry, JKIA remains the lead point of entry into the destination closing at 197,491 (January = 98,059, February = 99,432) contributing 67.3%. This is a growth of 135.6% when compared to 2022 performance of 130,642 arrivals. Cross border comes in 2nd contributing 21.9% with 63,858 arrivals, this is a growth of 60.9% compared to 2022 performance of 39,678 arrivals same period. MIA contributed 10.5% closing at 30,852 arrivals, this is a growth of 35.6% from last year’s performance of 13,094. Other airports (Wilson, Kisumu, Malindi, Eldoret ) closed at 1,239 contributing 0.4%.
In terms of market share, the USA is the leading source market contributing 12.1% of the total arrivals within the period, Uganda was second with 10.5% market share, UK 3rd contributing 8.5%, Tanzania is ranked 4th contributing 7.5%
Potential Market: Follow Gen Z on Social media
The popularity of social media-influenced travel is mostly concentrated in two segments: younger travelers and leisure travelers. Almost 40% of Generation Z (‘Gen Z’) travelers (aged in their mid-20s or below) use social media platforms to plan their holidays, compared to just 29% for older generations according to WTTC consumer trends 2023.
Among younger travelers, social media platforms rank even higher than ‘Information from friends and family’ and ‘a random online search as a source of decision-making.
Conservation: Tracing the Northern White Rhino for Conservation
Northern White Rhino Recovery Project; transportation of Sudan’s taxidermy from the Czech Republic to Kenya
The Northern White Rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum cottoni) recovery project is based at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy and runs in collaboration with Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), Wildlife Research and Training Institute (WRTI), ZOO Dvůr Králové, Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research and Avantea. The project aims are to:
- Undertake artificial reproduction of the Northern White Rhino (NWR).
- Utilize remains of NWR for educational and scientific purposes
The recovery efforts of the NWR date back to the 1970s following their reported sharp decline in the wild at the time. As part of their recovery, a couple of individuals were rescued from Africa and taken to ZOO Dvůr Králové in Europe in 1975. The effort was partly successful as it resulted in some years of successful breeding. However, by the close of the 2000s, there was a drop-in reproduction performance among the individuals held in zoos worldwide. This justified the need to move the 4 Northern whites back to Africa. Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya was chosen to host the individuals through a Custodianship Agreement with Zoo Dvůr Králové. This was to introduce the rhinos to a natural environment with the hope of prompting natural behavior and consequently breeding. The 4 included two females (Najin and Fatu) and two Males (Suni and Sudan). The precious cargo was transported via DHL from Europe to Kenya in December 2009.
Although mating activities resumed in 2011 and 2012, conception was not achieved owing to reproductive issues that were identified in 2014. The subsequent death of Suni and Sudan in 2014 and 2018 respectively left Najin and Fatu as the only known members of the NWR subspecies.
Assisted Reproduction techniques (ART)
ART was designed to save the species from extinction, KWS in collaboration with Zoo Dvůr Králové, Czech Republic, Ol Pejeta Conservancy, Avantea Laboratory Cremona Italy and IZW Berlin Germany developed a Material Transfer Agreement (MTA) for the artificial reproduction of the Northern White rhinoceros (NWR) and utilization of NWR remains for scientific and educational purposes.
In 2019, the BioRescue consortium developed the ART with joint founder members being Leibniz-Institute of Zoo and Wildlife, ZOO Dvur Kralove, Avantea, Padua University, Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine, and Kyushu University with support from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. The main purpose of the international consortium of scientific institutions and governmental as well as non-governmental conservation organizations was to develop and apply highly advanced novel technologies of assisted reproduction techniques (ART) and stem cell-associated techniques (SCAT) in order to save critically endangered mammals with the northern white rhinoceros (NWR) falling in that category
ART entails the development of embryos in vitro (in the laboratory) through fertilization of oocytes (immature ova) harvested from the NWR females after maturation in the laboratory. Fertilization is done using NWR semen collected before the males died and are currently cryopreserved (Frozen in liquid nitrogen). The resulting embryos will then be transferred into Southern White Rhinoceros (SWR) females and carried to term by the surrogate mothers some of which have been identified and are currently held in an enclosure at Ol Pejeta Conservancy (OPC).
Harvesting of Occytes (Ovum Pick-up – OPU) procedures commenced on 22nd August 2019 and are undertaken every 4 months to maximize Occytes collection for embryo production noting that the two females are advancing in age: Najin is 33 years and daughter Fatu is 23 years. Due to age and reproductive health conditions, a decision to retire Najin was made during the 6th OPU on 9th July 2021. OPU procedures are therefore only conducted on Fatu.
To assist in detecting the ovulation cycles in the surrogate females, a teaser bull was required to inform of the most appropriate time for embryo transfer. A Southern White Rhino bull named Owuan was therefore translocated from Lewa Wildlife Conservancy to OPC on 24th November 2020 and sterilized on 12th December 2020 to perform the role. The teaser bull has since been effective in detecting ovulation in surrogates.
To date, 12 OPU procedures have been undertaken with 173 oocytes harvested and taken to the laboratory for maturation and fertilization. Not all oocytes develop fully into the ovum for successful fertilization. Consequently, only twenty-four embryos (24) have been developed and frozen in liquid nitrogen in readiness for implantation in the southern white rhino surrogates.
Optimization of the novel embryo transfer technique using an SWR embryo which was sourced from the European Endangered Species Program (EEP) is ongoing. Two attempts have been made following the successful detection of ovulation by the teaser bull and subsequent implantation as proof of concept. The process is ongoing and once the procedure is optimized, the transfer of valuable NWR embryos will be undertaken in the near future.
The stem cell research led by the Biorecue team at Osaka University in Japan has pioneered the cutting-edge technology that enabled the production of primordial germ cells of white rhinoceros in vitro. This is the first step toward the production of NWR gametes (ovum and sperm) in culture. This aimed at increasing the number of individuals in the founder group of a future NWR population and the opportunity to produce oocytes in much larger quantities. This will in return increase the chances of recovering the subspecies from imminent extinction.
THE JOURNEY OF SUDAN, THE LAST NORTHERN WHITE RHINO MALE
1975: Sudan was rescued from South Sudan and taken to ZOO Dvůr Králové, Czech Republic
1983: Sudan’s calf Nabire was born at ZOO Dvůr Králové
1989: Sudan’s calf Najin was born at ZOO Dvůr Králové. Najin is one of the only two surviving NWR.
2000s: there was a drop-in reproduction performance among the individuals held in zoos worldwide. This necessitated the introduction of some rhinos to a natural environment with the hope of prompting natural behavior and consequently breeding.
2009: Sudan was one of the 4 NWRs that were transported from ZOO Dvůr Králové to Ol Pejeta Conservancy, Kenya
2011 and 2012: Sudan mated with both Fatu and Najin but conception was not achieved owing to reproductive issues that were identified in 2014 in both females.
2018: Death of Sudan on 18th March 2018
2019: Sudan skin and skeleton transported to the Czech Republic
2021: Sudan taxidermy completed and displayed in the Czech Republic together with its skeleton
2023: Sudan taxidermy was transported to Kenya on March 24, 2023, to be displayed at a central location accessible to all.
Sudan’s contribution to the NWR recovery efforts and utilization of its remains
Sudan died on 18th March 2018 at the age of 45 after about a year of dedicated care and management of various age-related complications. His lineage continues through his daughter Najin and granddaughter Fatu.
The NWR recovery project purposed to utilize their remains (bones of both males and skin of Sudan) for education and partly for scientific research.
Sudan skeleton is displayed at Dvůr Králové beside Suni to raise awareness of not only the plight of the northern white rhino but also of other endangered species. Sudan’s’ taxidermy has been constructed with support from Zoo at Dvůr Králové and is ready for transportation back to Kenya with in-kind support from Astral Aviation.
The taxidermy will be displayed at a central location with appropriate messaging for education and awareness of the plight of the rhinoceros. This provides an opportunity for Sudan to continue with the ambassadorial role even in its death at the behest of rhino populations.
India: Family and group visits best bet for the market
India is among the top six performing markets for Kenya, and for those looking to get visitors from the country, families and group travels are to go for- and Kenya has all that it takes to make this target group prefer the destination.
Moreover, the Ultra High Net Worth Individuals (UHNIs) and High Net Worth Individuals (HNIs) are growing exponentially along with an increase in disposable income amongst the upper-middle-class families who now treat travel as a necessity and not typically a luxury.