Tourism got a boost on Monday when 277 visitors arrived in Mombasa from London aboard a British Dreamliner charter flight.
Thomson Airways resort team manager Mark Morgan said the introduction of the Dreamliner charter flights from Gatwick Airport in London to Moi Airport in Mombasa was part of the airline’s efforts to upgrade its fleet.
He said the Dreamliner would enable the airline to ferry more tourists to Mombasa since it has 290 seats compared to 258 on a Boeing 767.
The plane enables travellers on long haul flights to travel in comfort compared to the Boeing 767, he added.
“Our aim was to create more space for British tourists flying to Mombasa for holidays,” he said.
“The flights will attract more high-end tourists to Mombasa and help boost international tourist arrivals in Kenya,” he said.
The move comes at a time when the sector has made a slight recovery after a German airline, Condor, introduced charter flights from Vienna to Mombasa last month.
Hotels at the Coast, and lodges and camps across the country are fully booked ahead of the Christmas and New Year holidays.
Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) managing director Muriithi Ndegwa said the maiden Dreamliner flight to Mombasa was a positive indication that airlines from the West had confidence in Kenyan tourism.
ATTRACTION OF MORE TOURISTS
The KTB boss noted that the Dreamliner charter flights would attract more British tourists to the country and enable the sector to recover from the slump experienced in the last four months.
“We are glad that Thomson Airways has introduced Dreamliner charter flights from London to Mombasa as we are heading for the festive season,” he said.
“The UK is our major source market as last year we had 186,000 tourist arrivals,” he added.
Mr Ndegwa said he expects the number of tourists from Europe to soar due to the festive season.
He said participation by KTB in London’s World Travel Market last month, coupled with other efforts to woo visitors from traditional and emerging source markets, would help the sector recover.
Mr Ndegwa assured foreigners that Kenya is safe for holidays and called on them to come in droves.
He urged Kenyans to also support the sector by visiting resorts.
He spoke at Moi International Airport shortly after welcoming tourists who had arrived on board the Dreamliner.
Pollman’s Tours and Safaris managing director Khalid Shapi called on the national government to allow more international airlines to operate both charter and scheduled flights so as to boost tourist arrivals.