Today, Tourism Principal Secretary Joe Okudo, CBS and his Wildlife counterpart, Dr. Margaret Mwakima, CBS, joined H.E. William Samoei Ruto, EGH, Deputy President of the Republic of Kenya and other senior government officials in receiving the Kenya Airways direct return flight from New York to Nairobi.
In his remarks on behalf of the Cabinet Secretary for Tourism & Wildlife, Hon. Najib Balala, PS Okudo stated as follows:
“Two days ago, His Excellency President Uhuru Kenyatta flagged off Kenya Airways’ first non-stop, direct flight from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) to New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport.
With today’s return flight, Kenya Airways’ Nairobi-New York direct flight has now made history as the first and only non-stop daily flight between East Africa and the USA. This is definitely cause for celebration.”
Furthermore, he mentioned that the non-stop flights between Nairobi and New York City are particularly significant for Kenya considering that the United States of America (USA) is currently Kenya’s leading tourism source market, with a market share of 11.8% as at December 2017.
Tourist arrivals from the U.S market grew by 17% from 97,883 in 2016 to 114,507 in 2017.
It is worth noting that the U.S. is currently one of the world’s best-performing outbound markets, according to the World Travel Monitor.
United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) reports indicate that the U.S. is the world’s second largest tourism source market after China.
Strong outbound demand has been fuelled by a robust U.S. economy, which has increased the purchasing power of U.S. travellers.
In 2017, tourism expenditure from the US increased by 9% to reach KSh.13.5 trillion, which is KSh1.2 trillion more compared to 2016. Despite these growth numbers cited above, travel to Africa from the U.S accounts for less than 1% of total outbound travel.
This is especially because Africa has always been considered a long-haul destination for travelers from the Americas and Europe.
Tourists from North and South America generally connect to Kenya and Africa through Europe, making the duration of their trip approximately 24 hours.
But with the introduction of the direct flight from U.S to Kenya, the travel time will reduce drastically to 15 hours.
The reduced travel time will make Kenya the preferred long-haul tourism destination and increase tourist arrivals from the U.S into Kenya significantly.
The Nairobi-New York direct flight by Kenya Airways will, therefore, substantially boost Kenya’s global profile as a tourism destination, as it will provide a shorter, quicker and more affordable connection for tourists and business travelers coming to Kenya.
Kenya’s safari experience is one of the world’s most spectacular wildlife experiences and has put Kenya both on the global map and on many American travelers’ bucket lists.
As more North Americans look to Africa as their next big vacation destination, Kenya now has an opportunity to expand further into the United States’ market and capture market share away from other destinations in Africa.
The direct flight will position Kenya as a global destination that can effectively attract travelers interested in Africa and those looking for outstanding and authentic experiences.
Kenya Airways’ direct flight to the US, therefore, comes as a welcome development expected to accelerate the growth of the tourism industry by contributing to increased tourist arrivals from the U.S into Kenya.
The flight will also have a direct impact on the Kenyan economy, as it is expected to generate direct and indirect employment opportunities by boosting trade between Kenya and the U.S., both in terms of goods and services.
It is important to note that according to the UNWTO, 1 out of every 10 jobs is derived from the travel and tourism industry.
The direct flight will facilitate direct cargo shipment of Kenya’s exports, such as flowers, tea and coffee, as well as textiles and apparels by air, directly to the U.S. market.
The launch of direct flights by Kenya Airways between Nairobi and New York presents an immediate opportunity to propel Kenya forward as the undisputed destination hub for East and Central Africa.
48 American companies and international organizations already have their regional hubs in Nairobi. They include the United Nations, World Bank, International Monetary Fund, Coca Cola, Microsoft, Google, IBM, General Electric and Pfizer, among other organizations.
What is more, the flight will connect more than two cities. The direct flight will connect East Africa to the US.
Travelers from Uganda, Tanzania, South Sudan, Mauritius, Seychelles, Rwanda and Ethiopia will be able to access the US through Nairobi.
It is worth noting that Kenya Airways already has an extensive route network that spans across Africa, Europe, Middle East, Indian sub-continent and Asia.
The Nairobi-New York direct flight will be an essential addition to the national carrier’s existing footprint.

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