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A fine Eastern Pende Panya-Gombe African mask. Coll.: David Norden

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Kenya: South Africa to Hold Aviation Talks With Country

South African government aviation officials will be in Kenya this week to re-negotiate the Bilateral Air Service Agreements (basa) between the two countries ahead of the 2010 World Cup. The meeting, to be held on March 28 and 29, aims at reducing restrictions on capacity and frequencies between the two African nations.

Officials from both countries indicated to The Standard in separate interviews that they are keen to open up their skies to each other in line with the Yamoussoukro Decision.

The 1999 Yamoussoukro Decision, which became effective in August 2000, provides for a continent - wide aviation agreement to free the African skies with the aim of realising full liberalisation between African countries.

South African High Commissioner to Kenya, Mr Tony Msimanga confirmed the meeting.

The envoy said that a part from the Yaumoussoukro talks, the two governments will decide when to renew the licence of South African Airways (SAA) Cargo, which has expired. The operations of SAA Cargo flights to Kenya were suspended in December 2006 and since then, the licence has not been renewed.

Among those expected to meet them are the Transport ministry officials led by minister Mr Ali Mwakwere, together with officials from Kenya Airports Authority and the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority.

A well-placed source in the Transport ministry said that the meeting is crucial given that South Africa will be holding World cup by 2010. By then, Kenyan airline should be free to fly to all major South African cities that will be hosting the games.

Currently, both Kenya Airways and South African Airways are operating daily flights between the two countries.

The aviation talks come soon after the South African Tourism (SAT) board held a successful two-day tourism trade fair at the Village market in Nairobi last weekend.

SAT Trade Relations Manager, Ms Hulisani Thabela, said more than 20,000 Kenyan's visited South Africa in 2005, contributing Sh1.8 billion (Rand181,2 billion) to the country's tourism kitty.

Kenyan travelers go for business

Thabela said in the period under review, Kenyans were the fourth largest spenders from Africa, with an average spend per person of Sh87,410 (Rand 8,741) behind Mozambique, Angola and Tanzania.

In 2005, tourism earned South Africa a total Sh534.3 billion (Rand 53.4 billion) excluding capital expenditure, from 7.4 million arrivals who spend an average of Sh82,250 (Rand 8,225).

"Most Kenyan travelers go to South Africa for business related activities, although the popular activity remains shopping and leisure," said Thabela.

Thabela said the fair aimed to increase Kenya's arrivals to South Africa by creating more awareness. Between January and September last year, South Africa attracted 8 per cent more Kenyan nationals as compared to the same period in 2005.

She said that while the growth rate was robust and encouraging, it was below the total growth rate from Africa, which in 2006 was 18.3 per cent per cent. "This suggests that we still have an amount of work to do in Kenya and engaging the consumer by allowing them to experience a little sample of South Africa in their hometown will hopefully entice them to experience the destination first hand," she said.

South African Tourism has over the past few years evolved from being a product-focused organisation to becoming more customer-focused.

Last weekend's consumer immersion event presented South Africa and also showcased the experiences and activities that appeal specifically to Kenyan travellers. This included fashion, music, food and wine and entertainment, which all celebrate South Africa's 'urban fusion'.

"We will also engage with in-market trade and media. Because while we appreciate the value of the Kenyan consumer, we also know that the Kenyan travel trade and media play a crucial role in selling our destination," said Thabela

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