The announcement that the government plans to launch direct flights between Kenya and Jamaica has been received with mixed reaction by travel agents in Kenya.
The announcement was made following bilateral talks held between President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Jamaican counterpart during his three-day state visit to Jamaica last week.
In their talks, President Kenyatta and PM Holness explored existing opportunities for cooperation in air transport with the Kenyan leader saying that flights from the East Coast of Africa to Jamaica will help strengthen economic ties between Caribbean countries and the African continent
“Our national carrier now has scheduled direct flights from Nairobi to New York but we would like to see flights flying from the East Coast to the West Coast of Africa and directly to Jamaica, and through Jamaica to the rest of the Caribbean as a true way of deepening our partnership,” President Kenyatta said.
“This move by the two Governments is timely as passengers will be able to travel well without the issue of Transit Visa in the USA. It will ease the many connections passengers have to endure to reach the Caribbean Island,” said Ms Lilian Mutumira from Africa Bliss Travel Ltd.
Good Hope Travel Managing Director Patrick Ngotho also lauded the move citing that travel agents will now be able to capitalize on the opportunity since Jamaica is a good holiday destination.
“Jamaica has always been a mystical place, I personally would love to go on holiday to Jamaica and look forward to adding this as a destination once the flights open up the two countries,” says Patrick Maina from Deans Travel Centre.
Mr Peter Bogecho from Zakale Expeditions said that the direct flights will go a long way in helping both markets through tourism and accessibility with reduced travel hassles.
However, the news was not welcomed by all as some travel agents felt that the idea is not viable since Jamaica is an expensive destination.
Mr Jayant Acharya of Acharya Travels observed that this was not a feasible move as it raises questions on sustainability of Jamaica-Kenya market. He further expressed doubt that the cost of air ticket and flying time would be compatible to the Kenya Airways product range.
Ms Julie Dabaly of Carlson Wagonlit Travel pointed out that Kenya’s national carrier Kenya Airways has too many problems that will not be resolved by flying to Jamaica.
“Kenya Airways should first get out of the red before adding to such a far-away destination. Jamaica is a beautiful destination but expensive,” she added.