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Kenya is banking on positive travel ratings by the Japanese government to grow its annual tourist numbers and boost business from the Asian State.

Japan revised its rating of Kenya from level three to level four, essentially advising its citizens to visit the country but exercise a high degree of caution.

The move is expected to create closer business ties between the two countries, including boosting technological transfer as well as opening the market for Kenya’s horticultural products.

“We now have an opportunity to market Kenya in Japan since the Japanese government has allowed its citizens to travel here,” said Kenya Tourism Board Acting Chief Executive Jacinta Nzioka-Mbithi.

Ms Nzioka-Mbithi made the remarks on the sidelines of the just ended Japan Travel and Tourism Association (JATA) meeting where Kenya showcased its tourism products.

She noted that negative travel advisories arising from terrorism activities heavily contributed to the decline in tourist arrivals from Japan.

In 2013 Kenya posted 11,571 arrivals but recorded a 23 per cent drop in 2014 with 8,914 visitors. Last year, about 6,757 Japanese travelled to Kenya representing a further 27 per cent decline from 2014.

The recently concluded Tokyo International Conference on Africa Development (TICAD VI) held in Nairobi also contributed to positive endorsement of the country among Japanese travellers.

“The event that was graced by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe served as an endorsement of the destination as well as reinforcing confidence among the Japanese travellers to visit Kenya,” said the KTB boss.

Upon conclusion of the TICAD meeting, the country had surpassed the number of visitors it has witnessed annually over the last two years.

About 14,024 visitors were recorded in 2012 before the downward trend.

Ms Nzioka said the current arrivals from Japan was indicative of the bright future from the market with the figures based on January to July statistics showing a 41.2 per cent growth of 4,248 arrivals, up from 3,009 in the same period last year.