Better air links will boost Africa's Tourism Sector

Opening up Africa’s skies to increased competition among domestic and international carriers will transform aviation into Africa’s economic engine. Growth of the aviation sector is inextricably tied to the vision of an integrated and prosperous continent as espoused by the African Union. The air transport sector currently supports 6.9 million jobs and $80 billion (about Ksh8tn) GDP across Africa. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) says there is significant hope to grow these numbers.

Africa’s promising story further underlines the need for enhanced air connectivity linking African countries to the rest of the world.

With the positive business climate and push toward economic integration of the continent, demand for air transport is anticipated to rise. Aviation will therefore play an increasingly important role in Africa’s economic growth into the future. Indeed, aviation can be the prime catalyst of Africa’s economic growth. The continent is already becoming quite attractive to leading global airlines. New routes are being opened linking Africa to key destinations across the world. For instance, Kenya Airways last year launched direct flights between Nairobi and New York. Air France resumed flights to Kenya a year ago following a long break. Starting April, Air France increased weekly flights on the Nairobi-Paris route from three to five in partnership with Kenya Airways.

The move was timely as it coincided with the official visit by French President Emmanuel Macron to Kenya. With such positive support and endorsement from the global aviation industry, and the international community, this is the opportune time to further grow air links between Africa and the rest of the world. The African aviation market will continue to grow as the continent becomes more integrated into the global economy. The focus should be on building the many gains made so as to achieve sustained growth into the future.

Aviation has many economic and social benefits. First, robust air connectivity improves linkages between African economies and global markets and supply chains. Modern air transport substantially enhances the efficiency of business operations, thus helping entrepreneurs and businesses to grow their global footprint.

Second, aviation facilitates leisure and business travel. Tourism is one of the most important sources of revenue for Kenya. Ramping up air connectivity to prime tourist source markets in Europe, Asia and Americas will greatly boost tourism. Additionally, many top international companies and brands are pitching tent in Africa. Therefore, efficient and reliable air connectivity to more destinations and cities on the continent is needed.

Third, aviation has a multiplier effect on economic growth. Besides creating direct jobs in airports and airlines, aviation supports many industries that rely on its supply chain. This translates into more business for businesses involved in agribusiness, logistics, transport and energy.

Fourth, aviation strengthens bilateral and cultural ties between nations. We are living in a ‘global village’, thanks to globalisation.

Increased air connectivity fosters cross-cultural and social ties among diverse nationalities, thus promoting international peace and cooperation. France is a key source market for Kenya’s tourism sector. More flights between Nairobi and Paris will expand business and trade opportunities for Kenyan and French companies. The additional flights on the Nairobi-Paris route will provide impetus for Kenya's tourism sector to grow the number of visitors from the European source market.

Following the state visit by President Emmanuel Macron, leading French companies pledged to invest $10 billion in projects covering roads, energy, technology, manufacturing and health. This is a huge leap in Kenya-France economic cooperation. It is also testimony to Kenya’s growing stature as an eminent business and investment hub in Africa.

Source: Daily Nation