As the peak season gathers momentum, Mombasa is looking to have unprecedented number of tourists, thanks to the increased number of direct international airlines landing at the coastal city.
The city, known as Kenya’s gateway, has seen seven airlines launch dedicated international flights to serve the rising number of tourists eager to sample the sunny, sandy beaches and a wide menu of other attractions.
Tourism Board (KTB) chief executive officer Betty Radier said the rise in the number of direct flights to Moi International Airport Mombasa is a global endorsement of Mombasa by tourists from Europe, US and the Middle East.
“This is good news for the hospitality sector and business as a whole. KTB and Qatar Airways will work closely to grow tourists’ number to Mombasa. Similar plans are also underway with other aircraft operators,” Dr Radier said when she received 150 passengers aboard the Doha-based Qatar Airways, which was making its maiden flight to Kenya.
Operating on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday, Qatar Airways said it will fly in 500 tourists from its Doha international airport base.
The airline is using an Airbus A320 aircraft that features 12 business class seats and 120 economy class seats.
Ethiopia Airlines is also operating daily flights to Mombasa from Bole International Airport, which arrives at 5.30pm, since March when it was granted a licence.
Mombasa also receives RwandAir twice a week from Kigali with TUI Belgium operating direct charter flights to Mombasa weekly. Kenya Airways and Turkish Airlines also operate from the airport.
According to KTB, Mombasa airport enjoyed a 46 per cent growth, with 84,286 visitors arriving in the past nine months up from 57,588.
With Qatar’s inaugural flight, Kenya is set to receive visitors mainly from her key European tourist source markets such as Italy, Germany, United Kingdom (UK) and France.
Traditionally, Mombasa has relied on Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport where its visitors alight before boarding connecting flights, making the journey expensive and long. But this is changing with more direct flights.
Dr Radier said more airlines have expressed interest in launching direct Mombasa flights from their foreign bases, giving tourists a cheaper option of reaching the Kenyan coast.
Apart from airlines, Mombasa is also receiving more cruise ships. The number of such ships are expected to increase once a Sh450 million modern docking facility that will incorporate a hotel, an immigration centre, among other social amenities, is completed next July.
The new cruise ship docking area will further boost tourist arrivals to Mombasa, which saw 4,747 high-spending tourists from Britain, America and Canada visit Mombasa between October 2017 and March 2018.
Ships that docked included MS Isgnia with 1,066 tourists and Fulk Al Salamah (ship of peace), the Omani luxury cruise ship, that had 350 passengers on board.
On its first trip, Ms Silver Spirit brought in 472 tourists and 365 crew members before returning with 890 tourists on its second trip while Norwegian vessel Ms Nautica brought in 642 tourists and a further 962 passengers.
Currently, Mombasa is enjoying a Sh1 billion charter subsidy programme that caters for Eastern European markets, which saw 55,000 tourists jet into coastal resorts where they spent Sh3.7 billion.
Under the programme, children aged below 16 accompanying their parents enjoy visa-free entry while national park fees are capped at Sh6,000 from the regular Sh9,000. Charter operators whose 80 per cent of tourists end their journeys at Mombasa enjoy a Sh3,000 rebate per tourist.
Dr Radier said Mombasa is set for bigger things once the charter incentive programme is reviewed to include other key tourist sources for Kenya.
Among its major attractions include Fort Jesus, Gedi Ruins, its white beaches, marine park, archeological sites as well as Lamu town, a designated World Heritage Site.
World Bank pushes G-20 to extend debt relief to 2021
World Bank Group President David Malpass has urged the Group of 20 rich countries to extend the time frame of the Debt Service Suspension Initiative(DSSI) through the end of 2021, calling it one of the key factors in strengthening global recovery.
“I urge you to extend the time frame of the DSSI through the end of 2021 and commit to giving the initiative as broad a scope as possible,” said Malpass.
He made these remarks at last week’s virtual G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting.
The World Bank Chief said the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered the deepest global recession in decades and what may turn out to be one of the most unequal in terms of impact.
People in developing countries are particularly hard hit by capital outflows, declines in remittances, the collapse of informal labor markets, and social safety nets that are much less robust than in the advanced economies.
For the poorest countries, poverty is rising rapidly, median incomes are falling and growth is deeply negative.
Debt burdens, already unsustainable for many countries, are rising to crisis levels.
“The situation in developing countries is increasingly desperate. Time is short. We need to take action quickly on debt suspension, debt reduction, debt resolution mechanisms and debt transparency,” said Malpass.
Kenya’s Central Bank Drafts New Laws to Regulate Non-Bank Digital Loans
The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) will regulate interest rates charged on mobile loans by digital lending platforms if amendments on the Central bank of Kenya Act pass to law. The amendments will require digital lenders to seek approval from CBK before launching new products or changing interest rates on loans among other charges, just like commercial banks.
“The principal objective of this bill is to amend the Central bank of Kenya Act to regulate the conduct of providers of digital financial products and services,” reads a notice on the bill. “CBK will have an obligation of ensuring that there is fair and non-discriminatory marketplace access to credit.”
According to Business Daily, the legislation will also enable the Central Bank to monitor non-performing loans, capping the limit at not twice the amount of the defaulted loan while protecting consumers from predatory lending by digital loan platforms.
Tighter Reins on Platforms for Mobile Loans
The legislation will boost efforts to protect customers, building upon a previous gazette notice that blocked lenders from blacklisting non-performing loans below Ksh 1000. The CBK also withdrew submissions of unregulated mobile loan platforms into Credit Reference Bureau. The withdrawal came after complaints of misuse over data in the Credit Information Sharing (CIS) System available for lenders.
Last year, Kenya had over 49 platforms providing mobile loans, taking advantage of regulation gaps to charge obscene rates as high as 150% a year. While most platforms allow borrowers to prepay within a month, creditors still pay the full amount plus interest.
Amendments in the CBK Act will help shield consumers from high-interest rates as well as offer transparency on terms of digital loans.
Scope Markets Kenya customers to have instant access to global financial markets
NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 20 – Clients trading through the Scope Markets Kenya trading platform will get instant access to global financial markets and wider investment options.
This follows the launch of a new Scope Markets app, available on both the Google PlayStore and IOS Apple Store.
The Scope Markets app offers clients over 500 investment opportunities across global financial markets.
The Scope Markets app has a brand new user interface that is very user friendly, following feedback from customers.
The application offers real-time quotes; newsfeeds; research facilities, and a chat feature which enables a customer to make direct contact with the Customer Service Team during trading days (Monday to Friday).
The platform also offers an enhanced client interface including catering for those who trade at night.
The client will get instant access to several asset classes in the global financial markets including; Single Stocks CFDs (US, UK, EU) such as Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google, BP, Carrefour; Indices (Nasdaq, FTSE UK), Metals (Gold, Silver); Currencies (60+ Pairs), Commodities (Oil, Natural Gas).
The launch is part of Scope Markets Kenya strategy of enriching the customer experience while offering clients access to global trading opportunities.
Scope Markets Kenya CEO, Kevin Ng’ang’a observed, “the Sope Markets app is very easy to use especially when executing trades. Customers are at the heart of everything we do. We designed the Scope Markets app with the customer experience in mind as we seek to respond to feedback from our customers.”
He added that enhancing the client experience builds upon the robust trading platform, Meta Trader 5, unveiled in 2019, enabling Scope Markets Kenya to broaden the asset classes available on the trading platform.