Chartered flights will play an important role in boosting tourism numbers in Kenya during the challenging Covid-19 pandemic period, Tourism CS Najib Balala has said.
Balala said that the flight from Ukraine was a testament to the advancements Kenya is making in markets that are not deemed as traditional source markets for Kenya’s tourism.
He also noted that the destinations tourism products resonate well with the needs of consumers from the Eastern European region.
“I am glad to note the progress that we are making as a destination in attracting tourists from different markets. Last month we received the first-ever Romanian charter in Kenya carrying 200 visitors, so far, this flight has had 5 rotations into the country with another one expected later this month. We must ensure that we explore all the available markets and tap into them. This is especially now more important with there being less travel across the globe,” said Balala.
Balala made the remarks during the reception of the first-ever flight from Ukraine, Kiev, to Kenya, at the Moi International Airport, Mombasa.
The flight operated by Bees Airline, a Ukrainian Charter operator landed in Kenya carrying 189 visitors from Ukraine.
Of the 189 passengers in the flight, 21 were travel agents travelling for product knowledge and to sample Kenyan tourism products and offering in order to sell the destination to consumers in their country.
Balala welcomed the visitors noting that the flight had come at an important time and provided hope for the recovery of Kenya’s tourism which had been severely affected by the global Covid-19 pandemic.
“The charter flights we are receiving signals the growing confidence in Kenya’s tourism products and preparedness against COVID-19. I thank the marketers and travel agents who are working tirelessly to bring visitors to Kenya. I assure you of the government’s support, we need to all work together to revive the sector fully,” added Balala.
The Ukrainian market presents an opportunity to push beach and wildlife products that resonate well with the consumers from the country.
The arrival numbers from Ukraine have been incremental over the last few years with Kenya receiving 1,523 visitors in 2017 and 1,892 visitors in 2019.
Currently, there is great opportunity to grow the numbers through charters especially due to the challenging environment brought about by COVID-19 pandemic.
“We expect 9 rotations from this flight in the coming months which will add to the number of tourists we are expecting in the country. It is therefore important as a destination to see more chartered flights coming into the country to bring tourists.”
He went on: “This will definitely be one of the ways that we shall ensure continued business for players in the sector as well as protect jobs for our citizens, the Ministry of Tourism and wildlife will work closely with organizers to ensure that the processes are seamle