Mombasa County received a boost yesterday after 189 tourists aboard a Ukrainian charter flight arrived at the Moi International Airport.
The chartered flight arrived at 9am and was received by Tourism Cabinet secretary Najib Balala, Ukrainian Ambassador Pravednyk Andrii and a delegation from Mombasa County Government led by Tourism chief officer Asha Abdi. The county government signed a Sister City Agreement between Mombasa and the Ukraine, Odessa city.
It hosted tour operators and travel agents from the Port City of Odessa. Ms Abdi noted that the visits were to create a relationship between the two tourism stakeholders to showcase the different attractions and business highlights from the two cities.
"The familiarisation trips planned and hosted by County Government of Mombasa in partnership with the Ukraine consulate, offered a unique experience for the visitors. It created a memorable visit that will help sell Mombasa city as a holiday destination," Ms Abdi said.
She noted that the arrival of the charter flight is part of the county's efforts to brand destination Mombasa and foster strategic partnerships with cities around the globe through the sister city initiative.
"It is through this initiative that we have received the first charter flight from Ukraine. A timely intervention to the coastal tourism sector amidst the Covid-19 pandemic," she added.
Ms Abdi noted that the industry is now on the path to recovery and this initiative, among others, will go along way in reviving the tourism sector in Mombasa and reverse some of the losses the industry players have encountered due to the adverse effect of Covid-19.
Mr Balala said it was exciting news to welcome the Ukrainian tourists.
"Three weeks ago, we welcomed the Romanian charter flight. It is the Eastern block that is showing a lot of interest, since the traditional markets are still under lockdown, said CS Balala.
Mr Balala noted that the Ukrainian tourists have been frequenting Mombasa. In 2019, there were over 1, 900 visitors via other modes of transport and in 2020, some 800 had visited the port city.
"The national and county government are working on a model to use the charter incentive programmes through the National Treasury to increase flights in Mombasa to address the issue of occupancies at the hotels at the Kenyan Coast in general. We want to promote much more of this region. We are luck we have Coast region not locked down like Nairobi, Nakuru, Machakos, Kiambu and Kajiado," Balala said.
He noted that from Wednesday, the government will start vaccination of 5,000 people working in the hospitality industry at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre.