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Kenya being urged to apply open skies policy

The Kenyan government is being pressed to implement the open skies policy at the Moi International Airport in Mombasa in order to boost international tourist arrivals.

Tourism Cabinet Secretary, Najib Balala, said when the government authorized more international airlines to operate flights to Mombasa, the industry at the Kenya coast could possibly recover in a shorter amount of time. He added that liberalizing skies in Mombasa could enhance air connectivity between the country’s tourism hub and cities in overseas markets and raise international arrivals.

Balala said tourism in the region would be ill-advised to pin their hopes on charter flights from Europe as only a few airlines serviced flights to Mombasa.

“During the 2011 peak period, Moi Airport used to receive more than 40 charter flights a week from Europe, bringing a large number of international visitors,” said Balala.

Currently, the airport had only seven flights a week, resulting in a low number of foreign tourists in the region.

“To achieve sustainable tourism development at the coast, the government ought to open skies in Mombasa so that airlines from across the world can operate flights to Moi Airport”, Balala explained.

Kenya Tourism Federation Chairman, Mohamed Hersi, said the government should open the skies in Mombasa for more international airlines to fly to the region. He said more airlines operating to the city would mean more international visitors which would then translate to a boost for the hotel industry.

Hersi added that international airlines that were intent in flying to the coast should be given the green signal.

“Regional airlines RwandAir and Ethiopian Airlines have been helping tourism in Mombasa, as they have been operating daily scheduled flights from Kigali and Addis Ababa”, he said.

Last year, the Kenyan government allowed traffic rights to Dubai-based airline, flydubai, to operate flights between Dubai and Mombasa. Other airlines from the Gulf expressed interest in flights to Mombasa, but have been facing difficulties in getting authorization from the Kenyan authorities.


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