Usually, Kenyans are charged more than double than they need to for air travel within and outside the country. This is according to a new report launched by Travelstart, one of Africa’s largest online travel agency.
Titled, The Great Rip-off, the report also indicated that most of the affected routes in the country were the preferred holiday destinations that include Malindi, Lamu and Kisumu. Affordable air travel costs could be the key to unlocking the stagnating domestic tourism figures. “Making travel affordable is the key component of any tourism recovery strategy.”
The Kenyan tourism sector has greatly suffered in 2014 from the effects of terrorism and the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. Statistics from the Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) for the first half of this year indicate that international tourist arrivals to Kenya fell by 13.6%, compared to a similar period last year. These numbers have been falling since 2012. A comparison to the corresponding period this year indicated a 24% drop.
Domestic tourism’s contribution to the sector has almost stagnated at 40%. The Kenya Economic Survey 2014 showed that Kenyans occupied 2,699 bed-nights last year, a drop from 2,787 bed-nights the previous year.
The Great Rip-off report states that more Kenyans will be encouraged to travel once average pricing reaches an affordable level for the populace. Travelstart was already in the forefront in promoting domestic tourism by offering the cheapest air travel costs.
From the report, Travelstart is cheaper than any other agency 93% of the time. A return ticket to Malindi was going for Ksh14,725 at some agents during the time of the survey. At the same time the same ticket on Travelstart was selling for Ksh7,267. Some travelers to Kisumu were charged Ksh13,230 by their agent, whereas on Travelstart they would have paid Ksh5,715 for the same ticket.
These domestic ticket prices were checked before Travelstart introduced Jambojet flights, which happened in the last week of October. This is bound to lower the prices available with Travelstart for local flights.
The price differentials also exist for international destinations. One agent was charging Ksh90,000 for a return ticket to Dubai. The same ticket was going for Ksh33,091 on Travelstart.
For all flights originating from Nairobi, Travelstart was cheaper on average 95% of the time to Malindi, 75% to Lamu and 88% to Kisumu. Across East Africa, they were cheaper than competition 96% of the time to Zanzibar, 90% to Dar es Salaam, 100% to Entebbe and 94% to Juba.
On the global routes, the online travel agency was cheaper 85% of the time to London, 95% to Guangzhou and 100% to Johannesburg and Dubai.
Travelstart Founder and Global CEO Stephan Ekbergh said that the company set-out to avail affordable air travel and was glad that the Kenyan office had managed to achieve that.“We believe that African economies will only grow if we partake of what we are selling to the global market. Domestic tourism is the way to go.”
The survey sampled 12 routes, all from Nairobi; three local, five regional and four international. Three type dates, immediate, short-term and long-term, were checked in the second week of October 2014.
Immediate dates covered departure from the last week of October and return from the second week of November; short-term captured departure from late February 2015 and return from mid-March 2015 while long-term captured departure from early May 2015 and return from late May 2015.