Hoteliers in Kenya’s south coast have urged the government to speed up the expansion of Diani Airport in a bid to uplift tourism in the seaside resort town of Diani.
The expansion of the airport could help turnaround tourism in Diani, which is the backbone of Kwale County’s economy, as well as create jobs and revenue for the national government.
For years, the Kenyan government has been promising to expand the airport, but nothing much has been done so far.
In 2015, the government indicated that it had plans in place to extend the airport’s runway from 1.1km to 1.6km to enable the facility handle larger aircraft.
The government also intended to construct a new terminal building at the airport to create more room for passengers travelling to and from the popular Diani holiday destination.
Recently, Diani was voted Africa’s leading beach destination in 2019 by the World Travel Awards. Since 2014 to 2019, Diani has been bagging the award, maintaining its glory of being the best beach destination on the continent.
Diani is endowed with powder-soft white sand beach, crystal clear turquoise waters of the sea, lush-green surroundings, as well as clean environment.
The holiday hotspot is popular to both local and international holidaymakers. As a result of its stunningly beautiful beach and warm weather, Diani attracts tourists from across Europe, Asia, Africa and the US.
Today, Diani Reef Beach Resort and Spa managing director Bobby Kamani appealed to the government to complete the expansion of Diani Airport to boost tourism at the South Coast.
Mr Kamani said: “The government should extend the runway at the airstrip, as well as construct the new terminal within the shortest time possible.
“The region is losing out on tourism revenue, which in turn affects employment and economic growth within the region and to the country at large.
“Accessibility is key not just for domestic travellers, but to international travelers too. We hope to one day see leading African national carriers flying directly to Diani to increase the competitiveness between various regions across the country, which depend on tourism.”
He noted that the completion of the expansion of the airport would uplift tourism in the south coast, as tourists from across the world would flock to the destination for holiday.
“Many holidaymakers prefer to fly directly to Diani to overcome ferry delays on the Likoni channel. Completion of the expansion of the airport would definitely turnaround tourism in Diani.”
Mr Kamani also called on the Kwale County Government to take advantage of the award-winning beach to transform Diani into a leading tourism hub at the Kenya Coast.
The hotelier made the remarks at a time when tourism players from across the country are gathering in Diani today for the Kenya Association of Hotelkeepers and Caterers (KAHC) annual symposium and golf tournament.
The tourism event is taking place from today (July 4) to July 6 at the Neptune Paradise Beach Resort and Spa and Leisure Golf Club.
The Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) has indicated its intention to extend the runway at Diani Airport to allow access to larger aircraft.
Once the runway is extended, the airport will have the capacity to offer services to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) in Nairobi, as well as international flights to Zanzibar, Arusha and Dar es Salaam.