Tourism stakeholders in Mombasa have welcomed the introduction of Mombasa-Zanzibar flights by the Marifly Air Service.
The new service, which will be operated by African Express Airlines using both CRJ-200 series with a capacity to carry 50 passengers and a MD -82 – A 150-seater aircraft, has been lauded as a boost to the tourism sector.
Marifly Air Service Commercial Director Sam Omondi said the new route connecting the coastal city of Mombasa and the island of Zanzibar was a move in the right direction as Kenya’s tourism eyes full recovery following the easing of travel restrictions in the wake of the devastating Covid-19 pandemic.
Omondi contends that the new flight intends to serve people of both countries including international guests who want to sample the various attractions in the two destinations which have similar characteristics.
He said the flights will be on Monday and Fridays with increases in flight frequencies early next year to have an additional Wednesday flight.
“Facilitating transportation between Mombasa and Zanzibar will be mutually beneficial to the two tourism destinations, strengthening tourism, cultural and trade links,” he said.
He gave the promotional introductory fares as Nairobi -Zanzibar $250 (Sh30, 735), Mombasa-Zanzibar $160 (Sh19, 670). Return Nairobi-Zanzibar- Zanzibar -Nairobi is $450 (Sh 55,300) while return Mombasa-Zanzibar- Zanzibar -Mombasa is $300 (Sh36,800).
Mombasa Senator Mohamed Faki who was the chief guest at the launch welcomed the new connection saying it is a big boost to the tourism industry and added that the coastal region stands to benefit from it.
“We welcome this new flight service that will serve tourism destinations as it will go a long way in boosting the regional tourism industry,” he said.
Faki said the new flights will play an important role in boosting tourism numbers both local and international as the two countries remain popular tourist destinations in the region.
Kenya Association of Women in Tourism (KAWT) Mombasa County chapter chairperson Janet Chamia welcomed the new service flight, adding that it was time Kenyans fully embraced intra Africa travel.
”There is immense benefit here with travel within our own continent. Air connectivity will make it easier for the discerning travellers to access the destination of their choice. We take this earliest opportunity to applaud Marifly Air Service for coming up with this service and wish to assure them as an industry of our total support,” said Chamia, who is a director at the three-star Jacyjoka Holiday Apartments in Mombasa.
Kenya Association of Hotelkeepers and Caterers (KAHC) Coast branch executive officer Sam Ikwaye termed the new service as welcome news and an early Christmas gift for travellers in both Kenya and Zanzibar.
”This is very exciting news and very good development towards the full recovery of the Coast destination. We need more equipment to support the potential in demand that there is in this route,” he said.
He went on to add that alternatives to access Mombasa and by extension the Coast means that many more people who depend on tourism can be guaranteed stability in business.
”We welcome and thank the management of this airline for their confidence in the region and ask the government to offer much more support to such investors to ensure such investors who are critical to the sustainability of the tourism industry are also supported to grow,” Ikwaye said.
The KAHC Executive officer further stated that the health and development of any tourism destination is assessed on the basis of accessibility.
”This really has helped to grow the profile of a destination. Now there is more hope for similar arrangements with international routes through full implementation of open skies policy so that we can be connected to both local and international hubs to realize the 3 million tourists target by the government,” he said.
By Mohamed Hassan