PLANS are underway to expand the Ukunda airstrip to accommodate larger planes and more visitors to the Kenyan south coast.
Kwale governor-elect Salim Mvurya said the airstrip plays a key role in promoting the tourism sector which has been affected by delays at the Likoni ferry crossing channel.
He said the expansion of the facility will save the region from losing business to hotels in the North Coast. Tour operators have been complaining of taking too long to move from the Moi International Airport to the South Coast due to delays at the channel.
Chartered and direct flights from Europe can only land in Mombasa and Ukunda airstrip, which is the main aircraft handling facility, only accommodates smaller flights.
Tourists normally use the Likoni ferry channel to access hotels in the south using a route that is clogged by traffic snarl-ups. Speaking in Kwale yesterday, Mvurya said his office will ensure South Coast is easily accessible by air and road.
He said he will also ensure the Kwale-Kinango-Samburu road is tarmacked to connect the region to the Mombasa-Nairobi highway. The government recently launched the Dongo -Kundu bypass to help cut traffic at the ferry.
Jacaranda Indian Ocean beach resort general manager Gomeri Kombo said South Coast has a greater tourism potential than the North Coast.