29-03-2021 by Freddie del Curatolo
The recent restrictions announced by the Kenyan government have reduced, if not almost wiped out, the expectations of the country's tourism sector in anticipation of the Easter holidays, experienced as the last period to be able to "cash in" before the usual hibernation that coincides with the rainy season.
The closure of the borders of Nairobi County and the four adjoining counties, Kiambu, Machakos, Nakuru and Kajiado, has in fact had the immediate effect of suspending all flights, officially from today at 12 noon, which have Nairobi as their base of departure and arrival. These are the domestic routes that go to and from the capital to destinations such as Mombasa, Malindi, Ukunda, Lamu, Kisumu and Eldoret.
"Domestic flights will continue to operate until Monday, March 29 at 12:00 noon," Kenya Civil Aviation Authority director general Gilbert Kibe announced on Saturday, "Aircraft operations will be allowed until the indicated deadline and thereafter cease all movement best replica watches until a date to be determined.
However, safaris are not affected: the companies that fly small aircraft on routes linked to "wild" tourism in the various stopovers and "airstrip" in the Maasai Mara, as well as in Samburu and Lake Turkana will continue to operate, so for those arriving in Nairobi in this period to see savannah and animals, the programs do not change, making transfers by plane.
For their part, the airlines that operate local flights, including Jambojet, part of Kenya Airways, have declared that those who had booked a ticket for domestic routes after March 29, and there are many who have done so, in view of the Easter holidays, will be able to reuse their tickets in the next 12 months from the date of reopening of flights, without additional costs (and we would like to see). This seems to imply: no refunds.
For Safarilink, the use of tickets will be limited to six months, according to the company's announcement to Business Daily.
This is yet another blow to the national airlines, which are already in a deep crisis. Due to antiquated roads and poor overland communication alternatives, flights remain the most practical way to travel around the country, especially for business and short tourism, but also fundamental routes for those arriving from abroad, Given that the Nairobi hub accounts for eighty per cent of foreign arrivals and that Mombasa, with the lack of charters for the past year and of Turkish Airlines, is now only a direct stopover from other African countries, such as Ethiopia (from which western and eastern tourists also arrive), Rwanda and Uganda.
From tomorrow and for the Easter holidays, therefore, local tourists will be able to arrive in Mombasa from Kisumu and Eldoret (counties not affected by the lockdown), Africans from Entebbe and Kigali, as well as Europeans and Asians via Addis Ababa.
"For tourism in Mombasa it can be an alternative, even if desperate - explains Roberto Marini, hotelier and active in tourism marketing in Kilifi County - but for Malindi and Watamu, as for Tsavo, the additional problem is the lack of direct flights connecting the Malindi airport if not with other African countries near Kenya, at least with Kisumu that is a good catchment area and that in this period could bring some more tourists to this destination. We have been working for some time with the national airlines to create new connections that would not only offer a chance to make money in this period of crisis, but would also offer many Kenyan tourists a new convenient opportunity for a weekend or a holiday."
Indeed, let us not forget that if the season can be considered virtually closed, there will still be a small 'bridge', that of 1 May which falls on a Thursday. But as things stand, only the coastal destinations close to Mombasa could take advantage of it.
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