Businessmen Want Ukunda Airstrip Renamed

The Stakeholders have asked the government to hasten the process of upgrading and renaming Ukunda Airstrip to Diani Airport due to the region's rise to a global tourist destination

Businessmen Want Ukunda Airstrip Renamed
Image of Ukunda Airstrip. /FLIGHT RADAR

Tourism Industry Stakeholders have requested for the renaming of Ukunda Airport in Kwale County to be acted upon as soon as possible for purposes of boosting tourism in Diani.

The airstrip is to be renamed Diani Airport owing to the region's fame worldwide, with revenue set to shoot upwards with the increased number of flights to the region.

Diani Reef Beach Resort & Spa Managing Director Bobby Kamani is leading a team of Stakeholders in calling for the upgrading of the airport, stating that it will increase the popularity of the destination and attract domestic as well as international travellers.

File image of Diani Beach. /TRIPADVISOR

‘‘We are at crossroads with the global Covid-19 pandemic having hit us hard. Any effort aimed at recovery is welcomed,’’ Kimani called.

The injection of Ksh3billion in the tourism recovery package by the government has helped in reviving the industry hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

‘‘The government must be commended for all it has done to help the industry get back on track. The Tourism Finance Corporation (TFC) is ensuring that the funds are disbursed in pretty good time to successful applicants to carry out refurbishments of their facilities. Once we have a vaccinated global population, we can be pretty sure that there will be confidence among travellers to sample the best of what we have here," Kimani added.

Kenya Association of Hotel keepers and Caterers (KAHC) Coast Branch Executive Officer, Dr.Sam Ikwaye while speaking during the conference called upon the government to speed up upgrade works and renaming of the airstrip to Diani Airport as the name 'Diani' is popular amongst worldwide travellers.

‘‘First of all branding is significant to this award-winning destination. Internationally, Diani is a big brand that will be easily identified by many tourists who have visited or have it in their bucket list,’’ noted Ikwaye.

Ukunda Airstrip is used by visitors to access Kwale County, followed by Tiwi and Msambweni. 

The airstrip is also used as a faster access by people visiting Ukunda as compared to when one would need to get there by road, which means passing through Mombasa County while accessing the Likoni ferry.

The upgrading of the airstrip will thus save Kenyans plenty of time that is spent accessing the area amid ferry problems and the absence of a national airport.

Ukunda Airstrip received a boost in 2019 when the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) broke ground for the construction of a Ksh150million air traffic control tower for safer flight maneuvers.

Moreover, the upgrading of the airstrip will allow aircraft with more than 150 passengers to fly direct from Nairobi to Ukunda. Currently smaller passenger aircraft belonging to Fly 540, Safarilink, Jambojet and other regional airlines can access the airstrip.

A small passenger aircraft at Ukunda Airstrip. /FILE