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Coast tourism boost as Polish charter lands

By Philip Mwakio | July 17th 2016
Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala looks on as Kenya Tourism Board acting Managing Director Jacinta Nzioka (left) presents rose flowers to tourists from Warsaw City in Poland as they disembarked from Airbus A321 charter flight at Mombasa’s Moi International Airport, July 15, 2016. The inaugural flight landed in Mombasa with 188 tourists who will be at the Coastal hotels and game drives for at least two weeks. [PHOTO: GIDEON MAUNDU/STANDARD]

An airbus A-321 from Small Planet charter operated by Tui Poland made a grand inaugural flight into Mombasa's Moi International Airport (MIA) amid applause from tourism players.

Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala was on hand to receive the inaugural flight welcomed by a colourful water canon salute by two fire-tenders from MIA Fire Brigade and a troop of traditional dancers.

As the plane taxied to a stop, the two huge fire-tenders that stood side by side let out plumes of water which flew over the huge aircraft before it come to a stop.

Mr Balala said the Kenyan Coast tourism was favoured to receive the Polish charter which will be a weekly flight touching down every Thursday until end of October. He announced that the Government's charter incentive programme was beginning to yield results. He added that Italian charters are due to resume Mombasa flights by end of July.

Onboard the aircraft, which flew in from Epwa International Airport in Warsaw piloted by Captain Kuta Michel were 188 passengers. It flew for over 10 hours with a fuel stopover at Hargada in Egypt. "I must congratulate my staff at the Ministry, Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) and Tui Group for having made it possible for this flight to start Mombasa operations,'' said Balala, flanked by Acting KTB Managing Director Jacinta Mbithi Nzioka said.

He said the Polish market was vibrant with tourists from Poland regarded as high spenders. Tim Remberg, Tui Group Resident Manager, said they are also banking on an additional flight over the winter season. Ms Nzioka said the introduction of the flight would boost arrival numbers.

"Between July and November, this flight will bring in close to 3,000 passengers. Last year, the same period, we got 1400 passengers travelling here without a charter. This particular one translates to 100 per cent additional traffic from the Polish market,'' she said.

On his part, Kenya Association of Hotelkeepers and Caterers (KAHC) Chief Executive Mr Mike Macharia said that it is history in the making for Kenyan tourism as the arrival of the flight marked the first time Kenya was receiving a direct flight from Poland in summer.

"This is definitely a big plus. If we can pull summer and winter flights then we shall be be back in business big time,'' Macharia said. Also present was Pollmans Safaris Managing director Mr Khalid Shapi.

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