A Polish charter airline made its first trip to in Mombasa last week. and another airline from Amsterdam is expected to make maiden flight to the Kenyan Coast on Wednesday.
The LOT Polish airline arrived at the Moi International Airport in Mombasa with 250 tourists from Poland on Saturday and will be flying to Mombasa twice a week, bringing in 500 visitors every week.
On Wednesday, another inaugural flight from Amsterdam is expected to land in Mombasa.
The increase in the number of charter airlines to the coast is a major boost to tourism that has been slowly picking up following several travel advisories by the European markets.
The government plans to issue fresh incentives to attract more low-cost carriers to bring in more visitors and boost the sector that once the mainstay of the region’s economy.
Tourism Principal Secretary Joe Okudo said the government will review charter incentives programme to incorporate low-cost airlines and scheduled flights to increase the number of visitors into the country.
“The move will not only strengthen our destination’s brand visibility but increase visitor numbers. It will allow us to venture into joint marketing initiatives with the airline operator and travel agents’ consortia,” the PS said in a statement.
Mr Okudo’s speech was read on his behalf by Kenya Tourists Board (KTB) regional manager Jonathan Koinange during the reception of LOT Polish Charter.
Currently the charter model only works in Eastern Europe and Nordic Countries, leaving out other key tourist source markets for Kenya.
“Within the charter period (November 2018 to March, 2019), Kenya shall have received about 8,000 arrivals into Mombasa, a major boost to the tourist numbers into the region,' the PS said.
Poland has continued to grow in market share of visitors into the country. Last year, Kenya received 11,947 visitors from Poland, up from 9,572 recorded in 2016, a 24.8 percent increase.
For the last eight months (January-August), arrivals from the country was at 7,504 up from 6,782 visitors in the same period last year, translating to an increase of 10.6 percent.
Last week Tui Belgium Charter Flight arrived at the Moi International Airport in Mombasa with approximately 150 tourists from Brussels indicating a major improvement to the chartered airlines flying into the country.
The PS said air connectivity was a key component in boosting arrivals into the country owing to ease of access and pointed out that the government will venture into joint promotion with travel agents to increase demand for travel.
Since the launch of charter incentives programme in 2016 with Sh1.2 billion package by the government, Kenya has recorded a growth in tourism numbers into the coastal region.
The number of charters are expected to increase towards the end of the year with the Mr Okudo expressing optimism that the revised programme would see an expansion to cover the other two international airports in the county.
The Kenya Tourism Federation official Mohamed Hersi said “we are honoured to receive inaugural Lot Polish Airlines by Tui Poland for the first time flying a Dreamliner to Mombasa”.
“Mombasa and Kenya Coast is bouncing back and bouncing back in a big way.”
Diani Reef Beach Resort and Spa managing director Bobby Kamani said they expect increased visitors for holiday in the country because Kenya has enjoyed peace and tranquility.
“We had two high profile events in our country that as players in the tourism sector, believe it has shaped our hopes for the increased business,” he said.
The direct flights, he said will attract more American tourists.
“The impending inaugural Kenya Airways Nairobi to New York direct flights is also an encouraging factor which makes destination Kenya more accessible to the US. We expect this to increase the number of visitors coming for the December holidays,” Mr Kamani added.
He said the rise in the number of American tourists is also attributed to several factors including the lifting of the travel advisories placed in Kenya.
“Travel advisories have been kept to a minimum since 2014 after which security has continuously improved and there has been political stability as well. These factors have definitely encouraged Americans to visit Kenya,” Mr Kamani said.