London Stock Exchange-listed TUI Travel has officially resumed flights to Mombasa two years after it pulled out, handing the recovering tourism sector a boost.
The giant leisure travel group had stopped operations on the route in May 2014, citing reports of al Shabab-linked terror attacks in some of the key cites of the country.
On Thursday evening, however, Small Planet Charter Airline – operated by TUI Travel Poland – landed at the Moi International Airport Mombasa with 186 tourists.
“This is the first TUI charter flight to Mombasa two years after they pulled out of the country,” Tourism Cabinet secretary Najib Balala said when he welcomed the airline back. “We are happy now that TUI is back and these are signs that we are on the right path of tourism recovery.”
Last December, the government announced a Sh1.2 billion incentive package for charter flights at Mombasa and Malindi airports effective January this year.
This was in a bid to recover lost business from tourist charter airlines which had fled following unending threats from the terror group, al Shabaab. Landing fees at the two airports were waived for two and a half years with a further passenger subsidy of $30 (Sh3,040 ) per seat for international visitors disembarking in Kenya.
The company is expected to bring in 2,200 tourists from Poland. He said the talks with Tui started in January this year and they have committed to bring in more guests into Kenya, a sign they have confidence in the country’s security.
Balala said last year Kenya received only 4,000 arrivals through charter flights, but they are now optimistic they will receive more guests after Tui travel resumed its flight.