NAIROBI (Reuters) - Kenya's tourism revenues fell 2 percent to 96 billion shillings in 2012, hurt by a fall in the number of European holiday makers after a string of security warnings, the Business Daily newspaper reported on Tuesday.
Visitor numbers fell 2 percent to 1.23 million last year, the Business Daily said, citing statistics from the Kenya Tourism Board.
The numbers were broadly in line with government forecasts made in early 2012 that revenues would only match earnings from 2011 due to the festering euro zone crisis as well as Kenyan security concerns.
Worries about violence in the run up to this month's presidential and legislative elections also kept visitor numbers down, said Sam Ikwae of the Kenya Association of Hotel Keepers and Caterers.
"We started our politics too early last year and that combined with the fear of possible violence sent the wrong signal to our source markets," Ikwae told Reuters.
"It was made worse by the insecurity cases and travel advisories. So there is no way the industry would have done well."
Just as the tourism sector was making a sustained recovery from the deadly violence after a disputed election in 2007-8, the key foreign exchange earning sector was rocked in late 2011 by the kidnapping of two foreigners from beach resorts.
Foreign embassies put out travel advisories and Kenya sent troops into neighbouring Somalia to fight the Islamist militants it blamed for the abductions, a deployment that was followed by a surge in gun and grenade attacks on the coast and in the capital, Nairobi.
European visitor numbers were hit hardest last year as holiday makers looking to tighten the purse-strings amid tough economic conditions cut down on long-haul holidays.
Arrivals from the United Kingdom fell 9 percent, there were 15 percent fewer Italian visitors, while numbers from France were down almost 30 percent in 2012, the Business Daily said.
The number of visitors from China bucked the trend, climbing 10 percent to 41,303, while U.S. arrival numbers also rose 6 percent.
The Kenya Tourism Board declined to confirm the numbers ahead of their official release by the tourism ministry at a yet unspecified time.