12-12-2019 by Freddie del curatolo
At the JABEIC 2019 conference on the Blue Economy, which ended yesterday afternoon at the Ocean Beach Resort in Malindi, there was also talk of tourism as one of the major drivers of the economy of the coast and in particular of the County of Kilifi. Many topics touched on by the Minister of Tourism Nahida Athman and the representative of the Kenya Coast Tourist Association and tourist marketing consultant Roberto Marini.
In addition to the well-known problems of infrastructure, bureaucracy disposal and facilities for those who want to invest in the hospitality sector, we touched on the theme of the Open Sky Policy.
What exactly is the Open Sky Policy and why could it revive the coast and in particular Malindi making the tourism industry active twelve months a year?
This is the possibility, regulated by international and pan-African treaties, of opening the skies and therefore the international airports to all the airlines of the states that have agreements between them.
"It would be enough as a start to open the airport of Malindi, but also that of Ukunda which already has the status of international flights from neighboring countries - explained Marini - with tourism coming from countries that do not have the outlet to the sea, such as Rwanda, Uganda and Ethiopia we could have an "income" of visitors even in low season, then integrating with Western and Asian.
According to Marini, who spoke as an expert to an audience of technicians, operators and managers of governmental and non-governmental institutions, the competitiveness of the coastal region of Kenya passes through these essential openings.
"My hotel works for 95% with domestic tourism - explains the Italian entrepreneur - and with arrivals from other countries in the African area we could all benefit from this, extending the months of work. The island of Zanzibar does not have the beauty and variety of landscapes that we have, with beaches, forests, savannahs, historical and cultural sites, different ethnic groups represented with their traditions and their gastronomy. But Zanzibar has direct flights from South Africa and other countries and Malindi not yet. But even Mombasa doesn't have direct flights from South Africa, for example.
In any case, it is the common opinion, even of the members and leaders of the European Union, which is investing millions of euros in projects for the Kenyan coast, that the airports of the regions involved must evolve. Required upgrades and, moreover, already foreseen by the Government in the context of its development programmes.
by Freddie del Curatolo
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