INTERNATIONAL ARRIVALS

Mombasa targets 5,000 Ukrainian tourists by May next year

There will be charter flights between the county and Kiev City

In Summary
  • Last month, Mombasa sent a delegation to Ukraine to meet with tour operators and the media to bolster relations between Mombasa and Ukrainian.
  • Mombasa has already signed deals with 22 different cities and more deals are in the pipeline.
Mombasa County officials from the Tourism department receive second group of 180 tourists from Ukraine who jetted in at Moi International Airport on Monday
TOURISM BOOM: Mombasa County officials from the Tourism department receive second group of 180 tourists from Ukraine who jetted in at Moi International Airport on Monday
Image: LABAN WALOGA

Mombasa county is targeting over 5,000 tourists from Ukraine by May 2022 as a new cycle of charter flights is expected to resume on October 15.

There will be charter flights between Kiev City in Ukraine and the port city of Mombasa.

The county government has signed partnership agreements and held several marketing engagements with government and private stakeholders in Ukraine.

Last month, Governor Hassan Joho's administration sent a delegation to Ukraine to meet with tour operators and the media to bolster relations between Mombasa and the Ukrainian city of Odessa.

Last week, a delegation from Ukraine arrived in Mombasa to explore the tourist attraction sites that Mombasa and the coastal strip have to offer.

Speaking in Diani on Friday after hosting a cocktail party for visiting tour operators and the media, the director of the Sister Cities Project in Mombasa, Salma Noor, said the partnership between Ukraine and Mombasa will benefit the coastal region.

“Tourism is one of the hardest-hit sectors of the economy by Covid-19. Mombasa governor has been very categorical about reviving the sector. The partnership between Mombasa and Ukraine will not only benefit Mombasa but the entire Coast region,” Noor said.

She said Mombasa has already signed deals with 22 different world cities and more deals were in the pipeline.

“Last year, we had three charters flying directly from Kiev to Mombasa, bringing in around 600 tourists in total after signing a deal with the City of Odessa. More cities have shown interest and we expect to grow the numbers through these partnerships,” Noor said.

The honorary consul of Ukraine in Mombasa, Oleksii Sierkov, said Ukraine was committed to the partnership, adding that they were targeting more cities for similar deals.

He said they were targeting to bring in students and doctors for an exchange programme in Mombasa, hoping to take more Kenyans to Ukraine for the same to strengthen the partnership.

“We are also working on charters from other big cities in Ukraine, we have around seven international airports, all of them send around 20 charters to Egypt and turkey weekly, our target is to allocate at least one charter per week from different cities of Ukraine to Kenya,” Sierkov said.

Mombasa County Tourism Chief Aisha Abdi said they are looking to diversify tourism products to attract more tourists to Mombasa.

“This is the best way to market our region because the journalists who have come here can be able to tell the story of our country in a language that Ukrainians can best understand, we can actually go out there and sell the coastal region as a package,” Abdi said.

She said much focus has been on leisure tourism, noting that most facilities were developed in that line, but Mombasa has a lot of potential in culture exchange and heritage tourism.

“Culture tourism is unique to Mombasa, that is why a lot is being done to restore the old town and also come up with different cultural events and festivals to showcase our rich culture,” she added.

Recently, the county hosted a two-day Mombasa Foodies Festival at the Mama Ngina Waterfront Park where revellers and food lovers got the chance to sample different coastal cuisines.

Abdi added they were planning more festivals to continue showcasing Mombasa culture to the world.

She added that they were planning to tap into the Meeting Incentives Conferences and Exhibitions market because it is only in Mombasa that people can mix both business and leisure.

“The mix is unique and our strong selling point when it comes to MICE tourism both locally and internationally, most facilities have revamped their conferences and conventions spaces to take advantage of it to attract international meetings,” Abdi said.

She said the county was focusing on sports tourism given that the altitude and weather in Mombasa were conducive to swimming and cycling activities, running, basketball and football, among other sporting events.

“The governor is pushing to have the infrastructure to support sports tourism, currently we are in the process of developing a state-of-the-art stadium which once done, will attract a lot of sports activities here in Mombasa,” Abdi said.

The county is expected to play host to over 4,000 guests this month who will come for the third edition of the County Assemblies Sports Association Sports and cultural Bonanza games slated for October 28 to November 6.

The governor is expected to reveal a task force involving different tourism stakeholders and county officials who will come up with and implement strategies aimed at revitalising and revamping the sector hard hit by the pandemic.

-Edited by SKanyara