The Kenya coast is reporting a rebound in tourism business even as Qatar Airways launched direct flights to Moi International Airport Mombasa with approximately 500 passengers every week.
Qatar Airways will operate an Airbus A320 aircraft, which features 12 seats in Business Class and 120 seats in Economy Class today (Sunday) touched down at Mombasa with about 150 visitors on board, heralding another good season for the sector over the festive season.
Qatar Airways will be operating four weekly flights (Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday) to Mombasa, bringing the number of weekly flights between Doha, Qatar and Kenya to a total of 25.
Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Betty Radier said the direct flight was not only an endorsement of the destination but a vote of confidence on the Kenyan coast.
“This is good news for the sector and together with the private sector. KTB will look into ways of partnering with Qatar airways as well as other aircrafts to increase passenger numbers into the route,” said Dr. Radier.
She noted the sector has recorded 7.8% growth in arrivals of by air and sea during the first nine months of this year, with 777,791 arrivals up from 723,174 visitors recorded during the same period in 2017.
Dr. Radier disclosed that arrivals through Moi International Airport Mombasa (MIAM) has improved for last nine months with 84,286 visitors up from 57,588 arrivals in the same period last year, a 46% growth.
With Qatar’s inaugural flight, Kenya is set to receive visitors mainly from her key European tourist source markets such as Italy, Germany, United Kingdom (UK), and France. The United States of America (USA) is also key to this airline. Other markets include Spain, Belgium, Switzerland and Austria.
USA, the top performing market for example, has posted a 6% increase in arrivals for the last nine months (Jan-September) compared with the same period last year with 95,234 visitors up from 89,866 recorded last year
UK, the second top performing market, has received an increase of 4.5% in arrivals in the last nine (9) months with 82,509 visitors up from 78,930 for Jan-September period last year.
Germany has recorded a 17.3% growth with 79,972 visitors (Jan-September) up from 34,050 arrivals, same period last year.
France, within the same review period, posted an increase of visitors to 20,248 up from 16,403 same period last year, indicating a 23.4% growth.
Italy, on the other hand, recorded a 30.8% increase with arrivals shooting up to 40,218 from 30,740 in the same period last year.
KTB CEO said there were more prospects from the market with the direct flight to Mombasa that will ease access to the beach product and other experiences.
“Qatar Airways’ inaugural flight has given us more impetus to look into more ways of enticing both charters and scheduled flights into the country. We hope to achieve this once we complete our review of charter incentives program to incorporate low cost carriers and scheduled flights” says Radier.
Currently, the charter model only works in eastern Europe and Nordic countries, leaving out other key tourist source markets for Kenya.