The introduction of the visa-on-arrival policy for Africans will open up the continent’s aviation industry for a business boom, taking the sector to new heights, leading bookings agency, Jumia Travel has revealed.
Many African countries are adopting the aptly named policy, which allows travelers to apply for and receive a visa when they fly to a given country.
“Because of this move, there will certainly be an increase in trade activities between Kenya and Africa at large,” Jumia Travel’s Josephine Wawira explained in a recent exchange.
Jumia Travel believes that the move will stimulate cross-border travel, thereby increasing passenger traffic in and out of the country, potentially making Kenya stand ahead as a preferred regional aviation and business hub for Africa.
Africa’s tourist arrivals have more than doubled over the past two decades. In between 1995 and 1998, more than 24 million tourists visited the continent. According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), a UN agency responsible for the promotion of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism, the number of international tourists visiting Africa hit 62 million in 2017.
Jumia Travel has revealed that Kenya-based airline, Skyward Express is capitalizing on trends such as these.
“We recorded 40,583 total passengers by 12th June 2017, with an impressive 55% increase within the same period in 2018 to reach 63,199 total passengers,” Skyward Express Commercial Manager, Kelvin Mwasi, told Wawira.
Speaking in regard to the main technology factors driving Kenyans’ flight culture, Wawira cited accessibility of flights bookings through the internet as a major element shaping the sector.
“This has been a great milestone in the industry. For instance, our bookings trends demonstrate that by 12th June 2017, web bookings stood at 11%, direct bookings at 60%, while Travel Agents contributed 29% of the bookings,” Wawira explained.
“Comparatively, by 12th June 2018, the web bookings increased to 23% with direct bookings dropping to 47%. Travel Agents now account for 30% of our bookings,” she said.
Wawira noted that mobile money transfer platforms have helped in boosting the business. She cited Kenya’s famous M-Pesa platform as a driver for growth in the industry.
“The integration of our booking engine to M-Pesa now accounts for over 60% of all our revenue collection modes. This technology, which is a widely used form of payment in Kenya has made it possible for our customers to transact with Skyward Express at the comfort of their offices or living rooms in a convenient, reliable, and affordable way,” Jumia Travel said in a statement.
“We are now seeking to enhance the digital platform for our dealings with our customers by integrating our services with other service providers like Hotels, Car Rental services and others to ensure that our customers are served better through the digital platform,” the organization added.
Mwasi noted that following increased publicity of local tourist sites to the domestic market, Skyward Express has taken part in the enhancement of domestic tourism transformation by introducing flights to emerging key tourist destinations such as Kenya’s Mombasa, Lamu, Eldoret and Lodwar regions.
“Our prices have been structured to make it affordable to the travelers who would like to visit these destinations. Besides, we have plans to widen our domestic route network to cover other tourist destinations like Malindi, Ukunda and Kisumu,” he said.
“This will make it possible for the local traveler to transverse the nation easily and affordable. As we open up new routes in the domestic market, we see domestic tourism increasing as Kenyans find it convenient, reliable, and affordable to take weekend holidays regularly through Skyward Express,” he explained.
Jumia Travel believes that the introduction of the visa-on-arrival policy for Africans will ultimately attract international airlines. The travel agency stated that the move will increase investments in local carriers, a move that benefits not only investors but travelers and other stakeholders working in and around the aviation industry.