Tourism stakeholders at the Coast have welcomed the reduction of fares by local airlines saying this would increase domestic travel and boost the industry.
They said the discounted fares for tourist destinations and the introduction of night passenger train by the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) would significantly increase the number of domestic travellers.
A veteran hotelier Fred Kiuru said since the outbreak of coronavirus, the industry has largely been sustained by local tourists.
“Such initiatives must be encouraged as the hospitality industry has been badly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Kiuru during an interview with Kenya News Agency on Monday.
The local airlines Jambojet, Fly 540 and Kenya Airways have announced special offers from Nairobi to tourist destinations of Mombasa, Malindi and Diani.
On January 5, Jambojet offered passengers 10,000 seats at Ksh2,100 during a three days’ sale which was part of the #NowTravelready campaign. The tickets will be valid for local travel between 11th January and 20th March 2021.
The national carrier Kenya Airways has reduced its fare from Nairobi to Mombasa to Sh4,300 while Fly 540 is now charging Sh3, 400.
During the December holidays, the same airlines were having fares of up to Sh15, 000 for one way only.
Early this month, Kenya Railways introduced the third pair of passenger trains on its SGR service (Madaraka Express) that operates from both ends of the line in Nairobi and Mombasa at 9pm and arriving at 3am.
This is in addition to two other trains that operate in the morning and afternoon which were launched in June 2017.
Mombasa and other coastal areas are the preferred holiday destinations for many Kenyans and foreign visitors to savour their beautiful sandy beaches stretched out from the South to the North Coast and tropical ambience.
Kiuru said the introduction of cheaper fares by the airlines was a huge boost towards efforts to revive tourism sector in the country.
The same sentiments were expressed by a South Coast travel agent Stephen Mule who said the industry needed all the support to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic. “The pandemic has brought nothing but bad news for the tourism industry,” said Mule.
He added that many establishments and other related tourist businesses were trying to stay afloat after being forced to close down that also saw thousands of employees losing jobs.
However, despite the Covid-19 pandemic, the industry enjoyed booming business during the December holidays where some hotels recorded impressive bookings with locals contributing 90 per cent of bed occupancy.
The hotels have put the necessary measures including training of the staff to ensure total adherence of the protocols outlined by the Ministry of Health.
Meanwhile, hoteliers at the coast have been urged to take advantage of the Ksh3 billion stimulus package by the government to cushion them against effects of Covid-19 pandemic.
The Principal Secretary for Tourism Safina Kwekwe lamented that despite being allocated a lion’s share, fewer hoteliers in the region have applied for the kitty.
Speaking in Mombasa on Sunday, Kwekwe said since the introduction of the fund last year, only a few hotels had submitted their applications.
Out of the Sh3 billion kitty, the Coast region which accounts for about 65 per cent of the tourism sector has been allocated sh1.8 billion
The stimulus programme is meant to support the renovation of facilities and the restructuring of business operations by actors in the tourism industry.
The intervention is to help the industry stay afloat as the coronavirus pandemic ravaged life and economics globally.