Coastal Tourism stakeholders have petitioned the national government to allow back direct flights of Turkish airlines to Mombasa as a way of boosting tourism.
Kenya Association of Hotelkeepers and Caterers coast region executive Sam Ikwaye said some of the restrictions imposed on some airlines are hurting the tourism economy on the coast.
According to them the government stopped the direct flights of Turkish Airlines to Mombasa in 2020 due to Covid-19 and has since then affected the tourism sector.
Turkish Airlines has long held the prestigious title of flying to more countries than any other airline.
Ikwaye said before the outbreak of the 2019 pandemic the Turkish airline has been bringing a lot of tourists to the coast.
“Our hotels used to be full because the airline brought many visitors and we are appealing to the government to consider it,” he said.
Ikwaye said Turkish Airlines has a broad connection with the rest of the world which is good for tourism.
He said efforts by both coastal tourism and the Turkish airline stakeholders to have the Mombasa direct flights resume have hit a snag.
Ikwaye said the government’s stance decision is costing coastal tourism a lot of money.
He said the hotels in Mombasa, Diani, Kilifi, Tana River and Lamu used to reap millions of money from Turkish Airline flights as visitors flocked the coast region.
Ikwaye said he is aware that the government is trying to promote Kenya Airways but should specifically allow Turkish Airlines back because it plays a great role in growing international tourism.
He also called on the national leaders to ensure peace and security prosper to allow the tourism sector to effectively heal from the Covid-19 pandemic and stabilize.
The tourism stakeholder said the previous weekly ODM protests impacted negatively on the sector.
“We are asking the government to enhance peace and security and bodies associated with tourism should be well empowered for the smooth running of the industry,” he said.
Ikwaye said National Environment Management Authority, Kenya Tourism Board and Kenya Wildlife Services should work together to improve the tourist attraction sites to boost the industry.
Meanwhile, the coastal hotels operate at 40 per cent bed capacity, mainly for conference meetings and visitors coming for leisure.
He, however, said they expect to operate at 100 per cent in July since it will be high season if peace will continue to prevail.
Leopard General Manager Kioko Musyoki said the Turkish airline attracts many tourists because of its cheap flight charges compared to any other airline.
He said at the moment the Turkish airline takes visitors to Zanzibar in Tanzania, thus affecting the growth of tourism in Kenya.
“We are losing, as we speak the Turkish airline is authorized to land in our neighbouring country,” he said.
Musyoki urged the government to continue removing some air travel restrictions to promote international tourism.
Meanwhile, Musyoki said they are concentrating on building East African regional ties to strengthen regional tourism and reduce dependence on international tourism.
County Tourism Executive Michael Mutua said the county government will work closely with the national government to have some of the grievances addressed.
He said the absence of Turkish airlines has been choking coastal tourism and the issue needs to be sorted out.
Mutua said the county is also planning to regulate the Air Bed and Breakfast businesses.
Airbnb is a service that lets property owners rent spaces to travellers looking for a place to stay.
Mutua said the sector is bringing about unfair competition in the tourism sector and is better if it is controlled.
“If we allow Air BnB, villas and cottages to thrive the hotels will be rendered jobless yet they pay huamountsunt of money for permits and licenses,” he said.
Mutua said the move will also help curb insecurity adding that criminals take advantage of unregistered villas and cottages to plan their crime and run commercial sex businesses.