MOMBASA, Kenya, April 17 (Xinhua) -- Kenya will rely on charter flights to boost tourism numbers during the challenging COVID-19 pandemic period, a government official said Saturday.
Tourism and Wildlife Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala said the charter flights Kenya is receiving signals the growing confidence in the country's tourism products and preparedness against COVID-19.
"I thank the marketers and travel agents who are working tirelessly to bring visitors to Kenya. I assure you of the government's support, we need to all work together to revive the sector fully," Balala said in a statement issued in Mombasa after receiving the first-ever flight from Ukraine to Kenya.
The flight operated by Bees Airline, a Ukrainian Charter operator and marketed by Travel Professional Group (TPG), landed in Kenya carrying 189 visitors from Ukraine.
Of the 189 passengers in the flight, 21 were travel agents traveling for product knowledge and to sample Kenyan tourism products and offering in order to sell the destination to consumers in their country.
Balala said that the flight was testament to the advancements Kenya is making in markets which are not deemed traditional source markets for Kenya's tourism.
He noted that the destination's tourism products resonate well with the needs of consumers from the Eastern European region.
"I am glad to note the progress that we are making as a destination in attracting tourists from different markets," Balala said.
Kenya last month received the first-ever Romanian charter in Kenya carrying 200 visitors, said the official, noting that the flight has had five rotations into the country with another one expected later this month.
"We must ensure that we explore all the available markets and tap into them. This is especially now more important with there being less travel across the globe," Balala said.
He welcomed the visitors, noting that the flight had come at an important time and provided hope for the recovery of the Kenya's tourism which had been severely affected by the global COVID-19 pandemic.
Balala said the Ukrainian market presents an opportunity to push beach and wildlife products that resonate well with the consumers from the country.
The arrival numbers from Ukraine have been incremental over the last few years with Kenya receiving 1,523 visitors in 2017 and 1,892 visitors in 2019.
Currently, there is great opportunity to grow the numbers through charters especially due to the challenging environment brought about by COVID-19 pandemic, Balala said. Enditem