Kenya eyes more Ukranian travellers after agents’ visit

Ukranian tourists

Ukranian tourists arrive at Mombasa at the Moi International Airport on April 17, 2021. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Kenya has set its sights on more Ukrainian tourists after travel agents from the European country visited Mombasa and expressed delight at the exciting destinations on offer in the coastal region.

The agents, who left last week, visited Mombasa and Diani and made excursions into Tsavo East and Tsavo West National Park. They also visited Fort Jesus, Haller Park, and other places.

The agents travelled on a direct flight from Ukraine to Moi International Airport in Mombasa. The visit is expected to increase charter flights to the coastal city and number of tourists from Eastern Europe country to the Kenyan coastal hotels that have been dependent on domestic tourists to boost their leisure travel business, amid dwindling returns due to disruptions associated with Covid-19.

“We are looking for exotic areas for our clients. Ukrainians visit African countries like Zanzibar which have beaches but in Kenya it’s better because of the ocean, hotels and safari,’’ one of the agents said.

“The lifestyle of the (Kenyan) people is interesting. For us it is like a mystery on how people can live in the parks.’’

Another agent said: “It is my first time in Kenya. I love it. People in Ukraine are looking for hotel, wildlife and food. People here are cool and fun.”

The agent said the country is looking for other countries to visit following their restriction to fly to neighbouring Thailand and Poland which have closed their borders to foreigners.

A high number of visitors into Kenya are expected during summer from June to August.

“Tourists were traveling more during the pandemic with bus to the nearest countries. Now they want to buy tickets to travel further,” she added.

According to Tabitha Muchogu, Heritage Group sales and marketing manager, who was in charge of the team at Voyager Beach Resort, one of the hotels that the agents visited, the tour means increased bookings to almost pre-pandemic period.

‘’The timing is very good. They need to familiarise and understand what to experience, what they are going to offer to their clients and what other things they can experience if they are staying over the hotel,’’ Ms Muchogu said adding that the visit would step up safari trips to Tsavo and Amboseli.

“When visitors fly directly to Nairobi, majority are exposed to a bigger itinerary like Nakuru, Naivasha and Samburu. When visitors fly directly to Mombasa, they are looking for beach. Sometimes they can fly to Mara but they tend to do short safaris.”

The visit by Ukranian agents comes after Mombasa County government officials travelled to Ukraine in September in a bid to woo European visitors and market Mombasa as a viable destination for leisure travel.

The visit saw the county government sign a tourism partnership agreement with Ukraine.

The visit also follows after UK removed Kenya from Red List that was placed in April following high infections rate of Covid-19 in the country, dealing a blow to the tourism sector.

Travellers arriving in the UK from countries on the Red List are denied entry while returning Britons must submit to 10 days of mandatory quarantine in hotels. UK nationals are barred from travelling to those countries.