Morocco's national airline Royal Air Maroc (RAM) on Thursday launched its bi-weekly direct flights to Kenya, a move that the Kenyan government expects could help boon the tourism sector.
The launch of direct flights between Casablanca and Nairobi will significantly reduce cost and distance of travel between the two cities. Moreover, this is also hoped to increase trade between the economies.
Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) noted that it was eager to learn how Morocco managed to attract 10 million tourists compared to Kenya’s 1.4 million arrivals.
KTB Acting Chief Executive Mrs Jacinta Nzioka–Mbithi said the new development was significant as the “connectivity for Nairobi-Casablanca direct flights will open up the tourism market, stimulate travel and improve tourist arrivals and receipts as well as trade between us.”
The plan to have direct flights to Kenya has been in the pipeline since 2013 when the two countries signed the bilateral agreement meant to improve trade between the two countries. At the time, Kenya became the first East African nation to sign a trade deal with the North African country.
Speaking at an event in Kenya in 2013, Moroccan ambassador Abdelilah Benryane said his country was ready to incorporate Anglophone speaking countries into its trade deals.
“Our focus has been on French-speaking countries,” Mr Benryane said adding that Kenya was the first Anglophone speaking country approached for trade.
In October 2015, the Kenya Honorary Consulate to Morocco announced on their Facebook page that the direct flights would be launched in March 2016 utilizing its Boeing 787 Dreamliner with an average of two flights per week.
Initially, Kenya had to fly via Dubai or Europe in order to get to Casablanca due to a missing link for direct flights.
According to the KTB boss, RAM’s entry is also a sign of confidence in Kenya’s revival of its tourism sector that was adversely affected by terrorism.
“Morocco is an important emerging market for us and naturally we wish to strengthen our efforts to engage by showcasing Kenya as a safe and desirable destination for visitors. Royal Air Maroc entry to Kenya demonstrates their confidence in our tourism industry despite difficulties in the recent past,” Daily Nation quoted her.
Morocco boasts a great history that is encapsulated in architectural masterpieces that have continued to attract millions of people to the nation. Morocco is also known for its world-class beaches and hospitality facilities.
KTB said it is ready to work with Morocco to sell Kenya as a tourist destination to the rest of Africans who are taking up inter-regional travel.
Image Credit: Air Maroc