STATE IN­CEN­TIVES TO BOOST IN­DUS­TRY RE­COV­ERY

The Star (Kenya) - - News Business -

Last De­cem­ber, the govern­ment an­nounced a Sh1.2 bil­lion in­cen­tive pack­age for char­ter flights at Mom­basa and Malindi air­ports that were ef­fected in Jan­uary this year. This was in a bid to re­cover lost busi­ness from tourist char­ter air­lines which had fled fol­low­ing un­end­ing threats from the ter­ror group, al Shabaab. In May 2014, for ex­am­ple, the UK evac­u­ated about 500 na­tion­als from a Mom­basa ho­tel, fu­elling can­cel­la­tion of char­ter flights and cruise ship trips to Mom­basa. The region was es­ti­mated to have lost more than 70 per cent in­ter­na­tional guests, and has since then been de­pend­ing largely on do­mes­tic tourists. Land­ing fees at the two air­ports were waived for two and a half years with a fur­ther pas­sen­ger sub­sidy of $30 (about Sh3,057 ) per seat for in­ter­na­tional vis­i­tors dis­em­bark­ing in Kenya. Ng’eno Kimu­tai said, has been grow­ing grad­u­ally from about 500 guests in 2014.

“The num­ber has gone up, and by Septem­ber this year, we had re­ceived over 1,880 cruise tourists. We are hop­ing the num­ber will go up as we have sev­eral ships lined up,” Kimu­tai said. “We are ex­pect­ing more ves­sels to ar­rive in Mom­basa up un­til Jan­uary next year.”

Hote­liers are, how­ever, wor­ried about the state of in­fra­struc­ture at the Coast. Hersi, also chief ex­ec­u­tive Her­itage Ho­tels, has called on the au­thor­i­ties to quickly fix the Mom­basa-Nairobi High­way at the Taru sec­tion, where con­struc­tion works have been on­go­ing for months.

“The con­trac­tor has taken quite some time. This has been caus­ing heavy traf­fic and hence af­fect­ing the sa­fari trips to Tsavo from Mom­basa,” he said. This, he said, poses a chal­lenge in mar­ket­ing Tsavo East and West sa­fari des­ti­na­tions.

In 2013 and 2014, the region was hit by the spo­radic al Shabab ter­ror at­tacks lead­ing to travel ad­vi­sories by key source mar­kets, in­clud­ing the US and the UK. The ad­vi­sories have since been lifted.

In May 2014, for ex­am­ple, the UK evac­u­ated about 500 na­tion­als from a Mom­basa ho­tel, fu­elling can­cel­la­tion of char­ter flights and cruise ship trips The region was es­ti­mated to have lost more than 70 per cent in­ter­na­tional guests, and has since then been de­pend­ing largely on do­mes­tic tourists.

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