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Upgrade on key airstrip set to drive tourist numbers

By Philip Mwakio | September 30th 2016
Governor John Mruttu

Upgrade works on Ikanga Airstrip to make it an all-weather facility is nearing completion, Governor John Mruttu has said.

Already, a 1.5km-long runway of bitumen standards has been laid.

"We are upbeat that small commercial airlines will start landing at the airstrip, which will open up the entire county to air transporters," said Mr Mruttu.

He said the county government was in talks with the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority about granting licences to air operators.

"We plan to further engage the parent Ministry of Transport and private air operators on the need to market the airfield as we seek to attract air traffic into Taita Taveta," said the governor.

He added that part of the support infrastructure such as a fire engine and ambulance were already made available.

The county has several smaller airstrips located within conservation areas but these are for the exclusive use of Kenya Wildlife Service.

Commercial airline operators must seek consent from relevant authorities to land their aircraft on airstrips located in conservancies.

Tourism industry players have welcomed the upgrade of the Ikanga Airstrip, saying it will boost tourist arrivals in the county.

"We have some of the best tourist sites in the county like the expansive Tsavo East and Tsavo West national parks, and several private game sanctuaries, which are a must visit. We hope airlines will see the need to start flying here," said Willie Mwadilo, the Kenya Association of Hotel Keepers and Caterers, Tsavo and Amboseli sub-region chairman.

He said the Standard Gauge Railway would also ease travel and accessibility to the county.

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