Politics and policy
Kenya plans to increase the number of tourists through Morocco airline link
Kenya is reviewing communication links with Morocco to increase the number of tourists from the Maghreb as traditional source markets come under pressure.
The two governments have identified having direct flights between Casablanca and Nairobi and commissioning of a Kenyan embassy in Morocco as key to sustainable tourism.
“Travelling from Morocco to Kenya takes one and a half days. We are trying to talk to the two national carriers KQ and Royal Air Maroc to join forces, but logistical problems have delayed the roll out,’ said Ali Bajaber, the honorary consul for Morocco in Nairobi.
Tourists travelling from Morocco to Kenya have connect flights in Dubai, Paris, Istanbul or Riyadh.
However, Kenya Airways could enter direct flight arrangement with Royal Air Maroc as soon as it acquires the 787 Dreamliner aircraft.
“We have talked to them and what we hear is that it may begin by 2013 or 2014,” Mr Bajabe said, adding that Royal Air had identified Nairobi as a key hub to reach East Africa and the islands of Seychelles and Madagascar.
Abdelilah Benryane, the ambassador of the Kingdom of Morocco, said that opening a Kenyan consulate in Rabat would ease visa issuance.
Travel between the two countries has increased with around 20 visas being issued per month compared to one after every three months two years ago.
The two officials were speaking when a delegation of tourists from Morocco visited the Kenya Tourist Board (KTB) under an exchange programme recently. The delegation said Kenyan hotels were expensive.
“Kenya as a holiday destination is expensive. One week trip to Kenya, from a booking office abroad, in a shared room costs 9,000 euro which is way too expensive,” said Mr Bajabe. Tourists from Morocco to countries like Thailand and Malaysia stand at 30,000 annually.
Morocco boasts of 10 million tourists annually, up from four million in 2007.
The country boasts of a 3,500 kilometre coastline with historical and geographical attractions being key attractions.
KTB is focusing on Africa to increase the number of tourists with only 1.7 million having visited the country last year.
Tourism numbers from Kenya’s key source markets in Europe declined marginally to 312,258 in the first quarter of this year compared to 313,691 last year because of the Eurozone economic crisis and insecurity concerns in Kenya.
However, the Kenya Tourism Federation chief executive officer Agatha Juma sounded sceptical on the issue of a resort city, saying that private investors who were once excited about the idea were casting doubt on the success of the project.
“The vision remains a vision if the issue of land is not addressed. Except for the Isiolo resort city where we have been told that land has been dentified, the rest remains a mirage,” said Ms Juma.
Morocco officials, on their part, urged the government to avail land for the development of esort cities, invest in tourism development, and ensure human resource development in the tourism sector through training.
Morocco offers excellent training to its tour operators, giving them information on the market.