Shipping & Logistics

Charter flights give tourism players hope for rebound

Charter flight

More than 150 tourists from Germany on board Eurowings Discovery Charter Flight of Air Lufthansa arrive at the Moi International Airport in Mombasa.

Summary

  • The tourism sector on the Coast is likely to rebound in the coming months following an increase in international charter flights landing in Mombasa.
  • The latest chart flight is by Eurowings Discover, a subsidiary of Lufthansa Group, which touched down at the Moi International Airport (MIA) on Sunday with 150 visitors.
  • The leisure carrier flies directly from Germany to Kenya, in Mombasa, terminating in Zanzibar.

The tourism sector on the Coast is likely to rebound in the coming months following an increase in international charter flights landing in Mombasa.

The latest chart flight is by Eurowings Discover, a subsidiary of Lufthansa Group, which touched down at the Moi International Airport (MIA) on Sunday with 150 visitors.

The leisure carrier flies directly from Germany to Kenya, in Mombasa, terminating in Zanzibar. It will be making trips twice a week between Frankfurt and Mombasa.

The flight came barely two months after the Bees Airline, a Ukrainian charter operator and marketed by Travel Professional Group (TPG), landed in Kenya carrying 189 visitors from Ukraine.

This also comes barely a month after Kenya received its first 53 incentive travellers from Romania, in a competitive yet untapped niche under the tourism sector.

Incentives are a specific type of product where individuals, usually company employees, are rewarded with a luxury trip to an international destination.

Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala said Kenya has been making progress in attracting tourists from different markets especiall in Europe.

“The Kenya Coast is especially showing great interest from tourists across Europe and beyond. A few months ago, we received the first Romanian Charter, followed by another charter from Ukraine, in Mombasa,” he said in a statement.

“The commencement of Eurowings Discover will help us link with both business and leisure clients from Germany and the region.”

Speaking to Shipping & Logistics in an interview, Tourism and Wildlife Principal Secretary Safina Kwekwe said Kenya has been working to ensure a conducive environment for international tourists coming into the country despite Covid challenges.

She noted that there is a growing confidence in Kenya’s products thanks to Covi-19 preparedness.

“Mombasa is a competitive destination. I assure government support to ensure there is a vibrant air travel to revive the industry,” she said.

This comes as the Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) commits to ensuring a seamless movement of charter flights coming into Kenya.

KAA Managing Director Alex Gitari said the country is expecting more international airlines after the completion of a recent upgrade at MIA, the second-largest Airport after Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) in Nairobi.

Tourism stakeholders have expressed optimism as they have already started reporting increased numbers of international visitors

Swahili Beach General Manager Jeff Mukolwe said international tourists are increasing even as the peak season in August beckons.

Some hotels have also reduced accommodation rates by up to 35 percent to fit the current harsh economic times among travellers.

“We have started seeing movement of the international market this July. The Romanian Charter started towards the end of June. Between July and September, we expect the international tourists to be about 15 percent of our market. This is because the charters are bringing in about 120 passengers per charter,” he said.

He added that although the numbers were not big, they were distributed in different hotels in the region, adding that the percentages of the international arrivals are expected to increase even more between now and September.

In March, just when there were fears of a third wave of the pandemic, Kenya received the first-ever Romanian Charter carrying 200 passengers which by April, had already made six rotations in the country.

Mombasa County Government has also committed to improving tourism in the region. In February, the devolved unit signed a pact with the Ukrainian government in a bid to revive the sector.

The partnership will see Ukraine launch the first charter flight ferrying tourists directly from Kiev to Moi International Airport, Mombasa. The charter flight will be ferrying 200 tourists monthly and later three times a week.

More than 20 Ukrainian tour operators and travel agents have already pitched camp in Mombasa, exploring tourism products and forming partnerships with local players.