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African Union support for low cost carriers to boost intra-Africa travel

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- The African Union is seeking support for the entry of low cost air carriers in order to spur intra-Africa travel, officials said on Tuesday.

Amani Abou Zeid, African Union Commissioner for Infrastructure, Energy and Tourism, told journalists in Nairobi that the cost of air travel within the continent remains high partly due to lack of a liberalized air transport sector.

“We are therefore proposing a Continental Tourism Strategy that seeks to promote liberalization of air sector in Africa. One of the consequences of the open air skies in Africa is that it will allow dynamic, private and agile low cost carriers to operate in Africa with a view to promote intra-Africa travel,” Zeid said during the First Meeting of the Sub-Committee on Tourism of the Specialized Technical Committee on Transport, Transcontinental and Inter regional Infrastructure, Energy and Tourism.

Zeid said the Continental Tourism Strategy should be signed by the African Heads of State in mid 2019 and thereafter AU member states will domesticate the policy.

She added that a competitive aviation sector will help to boost the tourism sector in the continent.

She noted that currently about 80 percent of all air traffic over Africa is by non-African airlines.

She observed that the AU has made various strides to improve the tourism sector including the promotion of the single Africa air transport market and the African Continental Free Trade Area that seeks to promote duty free flow of goods and services.

The AU official said the continent is keen to make the aviation sector dynamic by opening up it up for competition.

Najib Balala, the Cabinet Secretary in Kenya’s Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife, said Africa’s aviation sector is performing below its potential due to a number of bottlenecks.

Balala called for further relaxation of immigration laws across the continent to allow for African nationals to travel in the region without the requirement of visas.

He said most African states have adopted protective trade policies in respect of air travel in order to protect their national air carriers.

“We can borrow the example of Europe where low cost carriers complement the role of national carriers in transporting passengers.” he added.



AU, UNECA working in collaboration to boost Africa’s tourism sector

ADDIS ABABA Ethiopia (Xinhua) -- The African Union (AU) said in a statement on Tuesday that it is working in collaboration with the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) towards boosting the tourism sector on the African continent.

The pan-African institution in collaboration with UNECA has initiated the elaboration of the continental tourism policy strategy including a proposal for establishment of a continental tourism body, according to Cheikh Bedda, the AU Director for Infrastructure and Energy.

The AU officials was speaking on Monday during the opening of a three-day tourism meeting in Kenya’s Nairobi, deliberating on the key challenges facing Africa’s tourism towards developing appropriate strategies that are well-aligned to the AU 50-year development plan, dubbed agenda 2063.

Africa’s tourism is seriously affected by poor transport networks, inadequate infrastructure, and prevalence of visa restrictions between African countries, the director has reiterated.

In 2017, Africa received 62 million international tourists, showing an increase of 8 percent from 2016.

The UN World Tourism Organization (WTO) forecasts that international tourist arrivals in Africa will grow by between 9 and 10 percent by the end of 2018.

“This is good for Africa, but is only achievable if we work together as a united continent,” said Zimbabwe’s Secretary for Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry, Munseseishe Munodawafa.


Kenya eyes Chinese, U.S. tourists to boost 2018 international arrivals

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya is looking at Chinese and U.S. tourists in order to boost international arrivals in 2018, a senior government official said on Tuesday.

Najib Balala, cabinet secretary for tourism and wildlife, told a media briefing in the capital of Nairobi that the country received about 1.4 million visitors in 2017.

“We are projecting that increased international arrivals from China and the United States will push total tourist arrivals in 2018 to between 1.7 million and 1.8 million,” Balala said.

The introduction of direct flights between New York and Nairobi in October will boost American tourist arrivals into Kenya, Balala said.

He said Kenya has intensified marketing campaigns in China to attract more Chinese tourists, with a goal of more than 100,000 Chinese arrivals a year in the next two years. Last year, about 70,000 Chinese tourists visited Kenya.

China represents a key emerging tourism source market for Kenya that has largely been untapped, Balala said.

“We want Sino-Kenya people-to-people exchanges to reach the level of bilateral cooperation in commerce and investments,” he added.

The official said the completion of the Chinese-built Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) that links Nairobi to Mombasa has already had a huge impact on both domestic and foreign tourists.

Once the SGR is extended to western towns of Kisumu and Malaba on the Kenya-Uganda border, it will further boost the tourism sector, he said.

The government is also keen to prioritize the expansion of domestic tourism because it can help to cushion the sector from volatility of international tourist arrivals, Balala said.

“We want to open up domestic tourism to the western and northern region of the country which has a rich cultural heritage that is unexploited,” Balala said, noting that most of the domestic tourism is now concentrated in the coastal region.


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