The newly appointed Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala has announced a new set of incentives in the effort to attract more tourists flying to Mombasa and Malindi via chartered planes.
According to Mr Balala all chartered planes with passengers terminating at Malindi Airport and Moi International Airport, Mombasa, will be exempted from landing fees for 30 months starting January 1, 2016.
This comes at a time when the tourism industry is picking after a downward trend since October 2014. Although, the year on year figures still indicate minimal growth, with figures still down by about 13 percent, the month on month trend shows that the figures have gone up by 23 percent.
The new enticement package will further cause an upsurge in the number of tourists trickling down to Kenya’s coastal region.
The Ministry has further set aside a Sh1.2 billion package which will see to it that Sh3,000 ($30) per seat subsidy for international passengers landing at the targeted airports over the next 30 months is observed.
Despite the many challenges being faced by the industry including security that has crippled the sector, Balala hopes that the new agenda will help to grow the industry.
“It is worthy to note that security has greatly improved and it is time for tourist charter planes to resume flights into Kenya. It is in this regard that we have unveiled this plan,” said Balala.
However, in order for airlines to enjoy the benefits, they must ensure that at least 80 percent of passengers they bring into the country are terminating at Malindi or Mombasa. Additionally, the airlines are required to operate on the Kenyan route for a minimum of two consecutive years.
Why the two destinations?
According to Balala, the ministry narrowed down to the two because they are preferred holiday destinations for most tourists. To ensure that the plan works, a committee with members from Kenya Airports Authority, Kenya Tourism Board, and Immigration will be formulated to not only implement but also follow-up on the progress of the pogramme. “We will continue to monitor, evaluate and adjust these incentives every six months in order to suit prevailing market conditions.”
Kenya has been in the limelight in the recent past following the visit by the US President Barack Obama, Pope Francis’ tour and the just concluded World Trade Organisation 10th Ministerial Conference.
The incentives from the Tourism Ministry will extend up to June 2018. By this time, the country’s economy- especially through tourism- will have improved if everything remains in the status quo or improves.