Kenya Airways (KQ) and the Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) have signed a pact to jointly market the country in a bid to turn around their fortunes.
Both the airline and the tourism industry have taken a dip in fortunes in the first half of the year with shrinking tourist numbers due to security threats and the outbreak of Ebola in parts of the national carrier’s most lucrative markets, West Africa.
Under the memorandum of understanding, KQ and KTB will jointly target key markets in Nigeria, China, Uganda and France, which the Tourism Board says are key to its diversification strategy.
KTB wants to focus on African and Asian markets to spur tourist numbers through KQ, which carries 55 per cent of all tourists who come to Kenya.
The two bodies will also partner to venture into new routes, including Taiwan and Vietnam.
KTB Managing Director Muriithi Ndegwa said the agency plans to eventually go further into other emerging markets, including the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states, South Africa, Zambia, West and Central Africa.
KQ Managing Director Mbuvi Ngunze said traffic to Monrovia, Liberia, is already returning to pre-Ebola outbreak levels after the airline was given a go-ahead to fly there from Nairobi.
We have received permission to carry fifth freedom traffic between Accra, Ghana and Freetown, Sierra Leone and Monrovia. We have also been allowed to fly Monrovia to Nairobi, he said.
FLY TO SIERRA LEONE
Mr Ngunze said there were strong indications that the Ministry of Health would allow them to fly directly to the Sierra Leone capital once the situation is assessed.
Mr Ndegwa said the two institutions would also host all their services under one roof, transforming KQ offices around the world into one-stop shops where one can make all the travel arrangements, visa applications and hotel booking to Kenyan destinations advertised by KTB.
They will also combine their marketing strategies through KQ’s magazine and a new KTB magazine, Tembea, to be published soon.
The national carrier has been struggling, reporting a Sh25.7 billion ($245 million) loss this year. Mr Ngunze, however, says the airline is still healthy and ferries over 12,000 people every day.
He said the turnaround strategy was not a quick fix and that the airline was reviewing all aspects of its business.
The turnaround is not a single event and will not happen overnight, when the strategy is ready we will shear with our stakeholders, he said.
He, however, refrained from commenting on National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich’s position that top Kenya Airways managers could be sacked as the government prepares to steer the airline back to profitability.