News that a European company will launch chartered flights to the Kenyan coast has excited players in the tourism industry.
Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala revealed the news of the flights to the region beginning this summer, renewing hopes of the sector’s recovery this season.
The industry, which has suffered a dip in the last three years has held on strongly and with such charter rotations, it is hoping for the best, said Kenya Association of Hotel Keepers and Caterers (Kahc) Coast branch chief executive officer Sam Ikwaye.
The latest deal was arrived at after consultations between Mr Balala, representatives of TUI Group, a multinational travel and tourism company and Kenya’s leading international tour operators.
It was agreed that TUI Poland charter will for the first time be flying tourists to the Kenyan coast during the European summer season from July to October 2016, with a capacity of 180 passengers.
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It will be operating to Mombasa weekly with a possibility of continuing through the winter period to April 2017.
TUI Europe and TUI UK also announced start of operations in the months of November and December.
The TUI representatives led by Harry Kingma, Tim Ramberg and Mateusz Maszkiewics are already in Mombasa on a five-day visit to inspect tourism products and engage stakeholders in business during this period.
While welcoming this announcement , Balala said the charter flights will benefit from the recently announced charter incentive programme that includes waiver of landing fees and a 30 US dollar subsidy for every passenger on the charter flights terminating in Mombasa and Malindi.
“This is a step in the right direction and a big boost to the tourism industry. We welcome these charter flights... the action by TUI Group is a strong indicator that we are on the right path to recovery,” said Balala.
Ikwaye said the expected arrival of TUI Polish charter during the tourism high season in June will serve to improve hotel occupancy rates.
“We are optimistic of brighter things to come as the high season sets in after April,” Ikwaye said.
In the meantime, Jambo Group of Hotels chairman Simon Ndolo has called for more government support to local investors in the industry to enable them remain buoyant.
The chain owns a number of boutique hotels in Mombasa and Kilifi counties.