STATE INCENTIVES TO BOOST INDUSTRY RECOVERY
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.