Hos­pi­tal­ity in­dus­try ex­pect­ing wind­fall from Africa’s Open Skies pol­icy

The East African - - OPINION - Has­nain Noorani Via email

OPEN­ING UP Kenyan skies could be a ma­jor boost for tourism in the coun­try and will help the hos­pi­tal­ity sec­tor in­crease in­ter­na­tional ar­rival and do­mes­tic num­bers.

The pro­jected 25 per cent fall in air fares when the Open Skies pol­icy is fully im­ple­mented is mu­sic to the ear.

Lower air fares means more trav­ellers who have more op­tions for air­lines and des­ti­na­tions.

It is es­ti­mated that open­ing up of African skies will add $76.9 mil­lion to Kenya’s GDP an­nu­ally. This is a first in­di­ca­tor of the rip­ple ef­fects that airline-re­lated sec­tors such as hos­pi­tal­ity will benefi from the Open Skies treaty, which was signed this Fe­bru­ary at the African Union sum­mit on gov­er­nance in Ad­dis Ababa, Ethiopia, is set to make it eas­ier for Africans to travel around Africa di­rectly from one coun­try to an­other and will in­turn boost the en­tire con­ti­nent’s econ­omy.

As part of the AU move to im­prove the con­ti­nent’s con­nec­tiv­ity and in­te­gra­tion, Kenya’s na­tional car­rier, Kenya Air­ways, will also en­joy un­re­stricted ac­cess to mul­ti­ple des­ti­na­tions in African coun­tries un­der the Open Skies ar­range­ment.

The hos­pi­tal­ity in­dus­try there­fore is ex­pected to ben­e­fit through in­creased in­bound traf­fic.

This ad­di­tional air traf­fic will re­quire more re­sources to han­dle the in­creased de­mand. The mul­ti­plier ef­fect will gen­er­ate em­ploy­ment both in the avi­a­tion in­dus­try and sup­port­ing in­dus­tries that form part of the sup­ply chain. In­di­rect em­ploy­ment is more likely to be sev­eral times larger than the di­rect em­ploy­ment gen­er­ated.

Ac­cord­ing to the In­ter­na­tional Air Trans­port As­so­ci­a­tion, an Open Skies pol­icy in Africa will in­ject $1.3 bil­lion into the con­ti­nent’s gross do­mes­tic prod­uct an­nu­ally, cre­at­ing 150,000 ad­di­tional di­rect jobs.

The most re­cent deal be­tween Kenya and Ethiopia grant­ing Ethiopian Air­lines an ad­di­tional fre­quency on the Ad­dis Ababamom­basa route in an agree­ment be­tween Pres­i­dent Uhuru Keny­atta and Ethiopian Prime Min­is­ter Abiy Ahmed Ali is a pos­i­tive move to­wards the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the Open Skies pol­icy. This agree­ment will boost Kenya’s Coastal tourism, which has for a long time de­pended on char­ter flights from Europe.

This means de­liv­er­ing hundreds of thou­sands of vis­i­tors who are ex­pected to spend thou­sands of shillings on ac­com­mo­da­tion, at res­tau­rants, shop­ping malls, at na­tional parks, the beach and marine parks. This will trans­late into more gen­eral tax rev­enues, and air­port rev­enue for air­ports from con­nect­ing pas­sen­gers for do­mes­tic air­lines like Jambo Jet and Fly 540, bol­ster­ing their abil­ity to com­pete with big­ger car­ri­ers.

To ac­cel­er­ate the sus­tain­abil­ity of tourism de­vel­op­ment at the Kenyan Coast, the gov­ern­ment there­fore ought to has­ten the open­ing up of the skies start­ing with Mom­basa so that more air­lines from across the world can op­er­ate flights out of the Moi In­ter­na­tional Air­port.

The lib­er­al­i­sa­tion of air trans­port there­fore will con­trib­ute heav­ily to­wards the of achiev­ing of Kenya’s Vi­sion 2030.

Kenya was re­cently ranked among the top 10 global des­ti­na­tions for 2018, ac­cord­ing to Tri­pad­vi­sor. Top in­ter­ested peo­ple are young busi­ness trav­ellers seek­ing cul­tural ex­pe­ri­ences.

The im­ple­men­ta­tion of the Open Skies pol­icy will def­i­nitely open up Kenya and the con­ti­nent to ex­cit­ing pos­si­bil­i­ties.

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