Kenya’s tourism sector has received a major boost after a charter flight from Frankfurt, Germany landed at the Moi International Airport (MIA) in Mombasa.
The charter flight arrival is an indication of recovery for the ailing international tourism market source that has slumped since the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Eurowings Discover, a leisure carrier of the Lufthansa Group touched down in Mombasa on Sunday at 5.15am, with 150 tourists on board.
Speaking in Mombasa after receiving the flight, Tourism Principal Secretary Safina Kwekwe said that the resumption of the flight was an indication that Kenya’s international tourism was recovering.
“This development also gives us hope and reassures that people are eager to travel and experience the world yet again, as a destination, we are working to ensure we are ready to host tourists,” she said.
Ms Kwekwe said that with the new flights, this may see Germany top the charts in terms of traffic as Kenya’s tourism source market.
She added; “The government was committed to ensuring a conducive environment for a flawless travel system.”
German Ambassador Annette Gunlher said the move by Lufthansa to have a direct flight to Mombasa was not just about tourism but improved economic relations between the two countries.
“It is another testimony of the excellent relationship between Kenya and Germany. German companies that come to Kenya come to stay and I think this will not be a one-time thing, they have chosen to bring an airline to Mombasa and will be happy to operate in Kenya. This is another sign of our excellent relations,” she said.
“It does a great favour in terms of promoting our international business not just in Kenya but in the region. We will ensure that that as an air operator, efforts will be made to ensure flawless operations by Eurowings,” Kenya Airports Authority Managing Director Alex Gitari said.
Eurowings Chief Commercial Officer (CCO) Helmit Woefel said that the flight would be flying four times a week between Frankfurt and Mombasa.
"We chose Kenya because it was active in ensuring the recovery of tourism,” he said adding that currently it will operate twice-a-week frequency on Thursday and Sunday.
Kenya Tourism Board Acting CEO Allan Njoroge said Kenya had put up enough measures in the travel and hotel sector to ensure that all Covid-19 protocols were followed to give confidence to visitors on their health safety.
“We hope to see the airline prosper and encourage more others to come into the country,” Mr Njoroge said.
Hotels at the Coast have recently been hit by a shortage of international guests as the numbers of flights from Europe, a traditional source market had reduced.
The flight arrival comes at a time when the peak of tourism season is beginning after a downturn between April and mid-July.
Local tourism stakeholders led by the Kenya Association of Hotelkeepers and Caterers (KAHC) National Vice Wasike Wasike said that this showed that there was light at the end of the tunnel, they were looking forward to more charter flights landing in Kenya.
“Germany has been an important source market. We have wanted charters to come back to Kenya for a long time. They are starting to come back a bit slowly. There was a time we were receiving 16 charters per week, now we are doing only five to six,” said Mr Wasike, who is also the Group Operations Manager Heritage Hotels.
He added that as the world opens, the number of charter flights were going to increase.
The Eurowings charter flights had been scheduled to land in Mombasa in March 2021, but this was postponed due to Covid-19 movement restrictions.