Officials from the Mombasa County government have pitched camp in Ukraine in a bid to woo European visitors to the coastal travel destination amid dwindling returns in the local tourism industry brought about by Covid-19.
A delegation from the county government’s Department of Tourism is in the Eastern European nation’s city of Odessa with a brief to market Mombasa as a viable destination for leisure travel.
“We had an opportunity to pitch on the different tourism products as well as trade and investment opportunities in Mombasa,” Governor Hassan Joho, said.
He revealed that his administration is urging Ukrainian tour operators and travel agents “to increase the number of chartered flights flying directly” to the coastal city — a campaign that has seen the county government sign a tourism partnership agreement with Ukraine.
Meanwhile, Kenya Tourism Federation chairperson Mohamed Hersi and his Kenya Coast Tourists Association counterpart Victor Shitakha have urged the national government to prioritise the sector in its planning for post-Covid-19 economic recovery.
“We need vigorous marketing to attract more international tourists,” Mr Hersi said, even as Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala sought to assure international tourists that Kenya is ramping up Covid-19 vaccinations and is a safe tourism destination.
“We can’t ignore the international market; it has its dynamics and advantages. We have invested heavily in domestic tourism and Kenya has a thriving domestic market. Kenyans have been supporting the sector but we need to reach out to the international market,” the CS said during an interview with KTN TV from Cape Verde.
The CS said the sector will return to normal in 2024.
“Health is going to be the first thing on everyone’s mind when travelling, so we need to vaccinate our people so that travellers can feel Kenya is safe,” he said.
There was a slump in international tourism with hotels relying on domestic tourists.
Hotels traditionally depend on large summer visitor numbers from Europe and America, between June and September, a period they make a killing.
The tourism industry lost Sh80 billion in the first six months of 2020 as the country grappled with Covid-19, which shut down international travel.
Data from the Tourism Research Institute shows Kenya received 305, 635 international visitors between January and June.
US is Kenya’s top source market with 49,178 arrivals, Uganda (31,418), Tanzania (31,291), China (18,069), UK 16,264, India (13,950) and Rwanda (9,800).
Others are Somalia (9,194), Nigeria (8,267), and Ethiopia (7,487).