Kenya tourism minister demands added incentives for airlines


Portraying his insight into the how, where, and when of tourism, the Kenyan Minister Hon. Najib Balala last week called for added incentives for airlines, considering opening up routes from their home hubs to Nairobi. It is often overlooked, that unless airlines actually offer the seats needed to fly passengers into Kenya, who then fills the beds in resorts, hotels, and safari lodges? No amount of promotion and good reputation of any destination will be enough to guarantee success. It is, therefore, necessary to induce airlines already operating to Kenya to increase their frequencies, consider the use of larger aircraft, and, in particular, attract the attention of airlines not yet flying to Nairobi, or Mombasa for that matter, to open up new routes.

This applies, in particular, to the new and emerging markets for Kenya tourism in the former Eastern bloc countries and the Far and South East, most of which do not have a nonstop link with Kenya and, therefore, rely on other airlines to route traffic via their own hubs, often located in the Gulf area.

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He also underscored the need to finally get a direct air link with the United States, where it is hoped that Delta will later in the year commence their services via West Africa, as was initially planned two years ago but then halted as a result of the global economic and financial crisis.

Incentives for airlines can come in many ways, like rebates in landing and navigational fees, parking fees, handling charges, and assistance in marketing Kenya as a destination through joint ventures abroad. In the past, high fuel prices have also been cited by aviation personnel as a deterrent for airlines to come to East Africa, where the cost of JetA1 is often substantially higher than in other long-haul tourism destinations, and have asked government to remove all taxes, excise, and duties from JetA1 fuel to entice more big airlines to start flights to Kenya.