• The country is planning to launch talks with Ryanair Holdings Plc and easyJet Plc to begin flying to the East African nation in a move meant to boost tourism.
  • Should Balala’s talks be successful, Kenya’s coastal city of Mombasa will be the first sub-Saharan African destination for Ryanair and easyJet.

Kenya is courting two international low-cost airlines as it races to become the first sub-Saharan African destination for both carriers.

The country is planning to launch talks with Ryanair Holdings Plc and easyJet Plc to begin flying to the East African nation in a move meant to boost tourism, one of the country’s biggest generators of foreign exchange, according to Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala.

“We are developing a strategy to encourage low-cost carriers from the U.K. to fly here,” Tourism Secretary Najib Balala said in the Indian Ocean city of Mombasa on Tuesday.

Famed for its wildlife and white sandy beaches, Kenya heavily relies on tourism to generate much needed income, the sector generated Sh119.9 billion ($1.2 billion) last year, according to the Kenya Tourism Board.

“I will be looking to start discussions with Ryanair and easyJet,”

Tourism closely follows remittances and agricultural exports in terms of foreign exchange generators.

Should Balala’s talks be successful, Kenya’s coastal city of Mombasa will be the first sub-Saharan African destination for Ryanair and easyJet.

Also read: 10 fun and memorable activities you can indulge in at the Kenyan coast

Mombasa’s Moi international airport is the country’s second-biggest after Jomo Kenyatta International Airport and annually welcomes thousands of tourists seeking sun sand and sea.

The United Kingdom, a hub for both carriers, is Kenya’s biggest source of tourists so far this year after the United States followed by India, China and Germany, according to Balala.

As many as 16 percent of arrivals are now from other African countries, Balala added.

Kenya expects visitor numbers to climb by 18 percent this year, mainly boosted by improved security, infrastructure such as a new railway and global hotel brands expanding there, Balala said.

In 2017, the number of arrivals grew 10 percent to almost 1 million tourists, according to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics.

Kenya Airways, sub-Saharan Africa’s third-biggest carrier, will introduce direct flights to U.S. in October, and plans to add as many as 20 new destinations in the next five years.