The Government’s plan to launch direct flights between Kenya and Jamaica has elicited mixed reactions from stakeholders in the tourism sector.
The announcement was made following bilateral talks between President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness during his three-day State visit to the Caribbean nation last week. President Kenyatta said this would deepen trade ties and strengthen the partnership between the two countries.
“Our national carrier now has scheduled direct flights from Nairobi to New York, but we would like to see flights flying from the East Coast to the West Coast of Africa and directly to Jamaica and through Jamaica to the rest of the Caribbean as a true way of deepening our partnership,” President Uhuru said.
While some lauded the move, saying it would boost tourism between the two countries, others said it was not viable.
“This move by the two governments is timely as passengers will be able to travel without the issue of a transit visa in the USA. It will ease the many connections passengers have to endure to reach the Caribbean island nation,” said Lilian Mutumira from Africa Bliss Travel Ltd. Peter Bogecho from Zakale Expeditions for his part said the direct flights would benefit both tourism markets by cutting the long travel hours that put off potential tourists.
However, some travel agents felt the idea is untenable since Jamaica is an expensive destination.
Jayant Acharya of Acharya Travels observed that the move raises questions on sustainability because of, among other things, the cost of airfare and flying time as these may not be compatible with the Kenya Airways product range.
And according to Julie Dabaly of Carlson Wagonlit Travel, the national carrier has too many problems that will not be resolved by flying to Jamaica.
“Kenya Airways should first get out of the red before adding such a faraway destination. Jamaica is a beautiful destination but expensive,” she added.