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Open skies to regional airlines, Kenyan government urged

By Hezron Ochiel | August 31st 2015
By Hezron Ochiel | August 31st 2015
From left Fiona Ngesa,Assistant regional marketing manager Kenya Tourism Board,Susan Ogalo,(Chief Executive Officer Kenya Tourism Federation) and Mike Macharia (Kenya Association of Hotels Keepers and Caterers ) during a press briefing in Kisumu on August 28 2015.PIC BY COLLINS ODUOR

The Government has been challenged to open its skies to regional airlines to boost local tourism.

Speaking during the Single Tourist Awareness Sensitisation Programme in Kisumu, tourism stakeholders also asked the Government to establish regional hubs to tap into visitors making their ways to the region, to boost growth of the sector.

In an effort to boost regional tourism, Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda introduced usage of the single tourist visa and IDs in 2014 to facilitate easy movement of visitors in the regions as wider plans to boost the ailing sector.

Despite its introduction in January, only 4,000, according to the Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) have managed to travel in what industry players blamed on the high cost of air ticket as well as lack awareness on the products.

Led by Kenya Association of Hotel Keepers and Caterers CEO Mike Macharia, stakeholders said the sector, which is ripe and could take advantage of local tourists pouring into the region, is ailing due to strict regulations by regional governments.

“We need to encourage private airlines to enter into the business. Although we want to be proud to own Kenya Airways, we still need to open up the market to other players,” he said.

“If Ethiopian or Nigerian airlines wants to bring their planes, they should be allowed. We want competition to reduce travelling costs.”

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