Kenya bets on low-cost flights

An Easy-Jet aircraft taxis across the tarmac at Manchester Airport in Manchester, Britain September 4, 2018. [REUTERS/Phil Noble]

The Ministry of Tourism is in discussions with low-cost airlines, such as Ryanair and easyJet, to begin flights to Kenya.

Tourism is one of the country’s biggest generators of foreign exchange, after remittances and agricultural exports, bringing in Sh119.9 billion last year, according to the Kenya Tourism Board.

“We are developing a strategy to encourage low-cost carriers from the UK to fly here,” Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala said in an interview in Mombasa on Tuesday.

“I will be looking to start discussions with Ryanair and easyJet.”

SEE ALSO :Kenya expects 2.1 million tourists this year

Sun and sand

If Mr Balala’s talks are successful, the coastal city will be the first sub-Saharan African destination for both carriers. Mombasa’s airport is the country’s second biggest after Nairobi’s, with many tourists seeking the region’s sun and sand. Kenya is also famed for its wildlife.

The UK, a hub for both carriers, is Kenya’s biggest source of tourists so far this year after the US, Balala said, followed by India, China and Germany. As many as 16 per cent of arrivals are from other African countries, he said.

Kenya expects visitor numbers to climb by 18 per cent this year, boosted by improved security, infrastructure such as a new railway, and global hotel brands expanding there, Balala said.

In 2017, the number of arrivals grew 10 per cent to almost one million tourists, according to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics.

Kenya Airways, sub-Saharan Africa’s third-biggest carrier, will introduce direct flights to the US later next month, and plans to add as many as 20 new destinations in the next five years

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Ministry of TourismRyanaireasyJetTourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala