Air Berlin cancels summer series to Mombasa

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(eTN) – Bad news for Kenya’s coast tourism just keeps piling up, with Air Berlin announcing their plans to shelve Mombasa from their summer 2013 program.

Sources in the Kenyan tourism industry now blame their minister and the government at large for failing to listen to them and fund tourism marketing to tap into alternate markets, while at the same time running good will missions to the existing markets in Europe, where reassurance would be on top of the agenda, something not possible now due to lack of funds for KTB.

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‘Our government is preoccupied with elections, electioneering and other issues and tourism is being hammered from so many sides now. Cost increases, plans for VAT which our minister failed to stop and then the issue with Qatar Airways. They wanted to come to Mombasa on a daily basis, supporting tourism and trade, and because someone in government failed to get what they were looking for, like in a golden handshake, they pulled the plug last moment on traffic rights between Nairobi and Kilimanjaro and between Dar es Salaam and Mombasa.

You think that airline NEEDS to fly to Mombasa? They want to but it has to be financially viable and sector traffic rights will help, like you have it between Entebbe and Kigali. First you broke the news on 1Time pulling out and that was confirmed and now Air Berlin too? At a time when we need more airlines, more seats we now get less. It is a big blow and my colleagues are wondering which one will pull next. This is nearing the 2008 proportions at the coast and if the ministry says Mombasa is doing so well, they are plainly not telling the truth.

Occupancies are down, revenues are down, discretionary spending is down. Thank you for your positive comments about visiting Mombasa on Facebook, it was seen and appreciated very much that someone like you stands by us more than our own government. Please tell the world Mombasa’s resorts are safe and sound and ready to receive visitors’ said a regular source, asked to comment on this piece of breaking news.

By the end of June, Mombasa had a year on year downturn of over 20% and from all indications this trend appears to hold steady, as the country moves towards the March 2013 elections. ‘That is another issue for us, because those elections are ahead of Easter which is normally quite full and for next year we are making provisions to start the low season before Easter around election time and put special offers on the market for residents and East Africans, because no one knows what is going to happen if there is no clear winner in the first round’, the source then added, before saying that he and his colleagues would meet soon to strategize and give government an action list of key demands to be met, to help boost occupancies and promote the Kenya coast across the world.