The announcement by government of plans to launch direct flights between Kenya and Jamaica has been received with mixed reaction by travel agents.
This announcement was made following bilateral talks held between President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Jamaican counterpart during his three-day state visit to Jamaica this week.
President Kenyatta said this would deepen commercial ties as well as strengthen partnership between the two countries.
“This move by the two Governments is timely as passengers will be able to travel well without the issue of Transit Visa in the USA. It will ease the many connections passengers have to endure to reach the Caribbean Island,” Lilian Mutumira from Africa Bliss Travel Ltd said in Nairobi on Tuesday, 13 August 2019.
Good Hope Travel Managing Director, Patrick Ngotho, also lauded the move, citing that travel agents will now be able to capitalize on the opportunity since Jamaica is a good holiday destination.
“Jamaica has always been a mystical place, I personally would love to go on holiday to Jamaica and look forward to adding this as a destination once the flights open up the two countries,” said Patrick Maina from Deans Travel Centre.
Peter Bogecho from Zakale Expeditions said that the direct flights will go a long way in helping both markets through tourism and accessibility with reduced travel hassles.
However, the news was not welcomed by all as some travel agents felt that the idea is not viable since Jamaica is an expensive destination.
Jayant Acharya of Acharya Travels observed that this was not a feasible move as it raises questions on sustainability of the Jamaica-Kenya market. He further expressed doubt that the cost of air ticket and flying time would be compatible to the Kenya Airways product range.
Julie Dabaly of Carlson Wagonlit Travel pointed out that Kenya’s national carrier, Kenya Airways, has too many problems that will not be resolved by flying to Jamaica.
“Kenya Airways should first get out of the red before adding to such a far-away destination. Jamaica is a beautiful destination but expensive,” she added.
During their discussions, President Uhuru Kenyatta and Jamaican Prime Minister, Andrew Holness, said air transport between Kenya and the Caribbean will lead to more economic interaction which will in turn help economic growth for the people of both countries.
The two leaders explored existing opportunities for cooperation in air transport with the saying that flights from the East Coast of Africa to Jamaica will help strengthen economic ties between Caribbean countries and the African continent.