Hospitality industry expecting windfall from Africa’s Open Skies policy
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.