Increased air access positions Africa as attractive MICE destination for US market for 2019

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By Henk Graaff, SW Africa MD
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28th Aug, 2018
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Africa is expected to become a popular MICE destination for US companies in 2019 as no less than three new direct air links between the two continents have been announced in the past few months.

Ethiopian Airways has introduced a flight to Chicago in June this year, while Kenya Airways and Rwandair are in the process of launching flights to New York later this year.

Kenya Airways’ inaugural flight to New York on 28 October this year is already sold out, according to travel agents in East Africa. The non-stop flight will be the fastest connection from East Africa to New York, with a 15 hours duration eastbound and 14 hours westbound.

The airline’s convenient schedule will allow easy connections to and from over 40 African destinations for MICE travellers to Africa.

Meanwhile, Rwandair has confirmed that the airline is in the finalisation stage of launching a direct operation to New York. The airline recently received the nod by Washington that allows direct flights as well as for the airline to operate through a code-share agreement. Although there is no specific date yet, a spokesperson for the airline promised the airline’s New York operation launch date would be announced ‘soon’.

We are very pleased with the increased air access between the US and Africa, as this will not only offer more convenience but also more choice for corporate travellers. New air routes open up trade opportunities and with that comes more travel – both business and leisure. For time-sensitive business travellers, direct routes like these being introduced are essential.

The following three destinations are expected to benefit the most from the newly announced flights.

Ethiopian Airways to Victoria Falls

The new Ethiopian Airlines’ service to Chicago departs from the US at 9:55 am to arrive in Addis Ababa at 07:40 am the next day, from where there is a smooth and direct connection to Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe.

Victoria Falls is an exciting MICE destination with a great number of team building opportunities. While witnessing the majesty of the “smoke that thunders”, delegates can bungee jump, zip line, white river raft, canoe and game drive their way around this activity hub. This is an African adventure at its best, with all the necessary safety regulations, conferencing facilities and the infrastructure to boot.

For those wanting to organise a longer incentive trip, Victoria Falls can conveniently be combined with Chobe National Park in Botswana.

Kenya Airways to the Masai Mara

Kenya Airways’ direct flight to New York will depart every day from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport hub in Nairobi at 23:25 arriving at JFK airport in New York at 06:25 the following day. From New York it will depart at 12:25 landing at JKIA at 10:55 the following day. Its duration will be 15 hours eastbound and 14 hours westbound.

Giving your delegates a chance to witness the amazing Great Migration in Kenya makes for the ultimate action-packed safari adventure of a lifetime. Treat delegates to a hot-air balloon flight to get a bird’s eye view of the wildlife on the plains below, or let them enjoy a picnic on safari in the open savannah.

A trip to East Africa can be perfectly combined with a visit to Cape Town where your delegates can enjoy the ultimate luxury experience on the Rovos Rail.

Visit the Mountain Gorillas with Rwandair

Rwanda has become a leading MICE tourism destination for corporates worldwide. The destination is expected to grow even more in the US market as a result of the soon-to-be-announced direct flight.

The Rwanda Development Board (RDB) recently introduced a new MICE strategy to attract this lucrative market. Rwanda is an organised country where infrastructure is good. This makes it possible for MICE delegates to view the mountain gorillas on a one- or two-day trip after their conference. And, coming face-to-face with a mountain gorilla is something your delegates will never forget.

The country is home to magnificent scenery, smiling and welcoming people and incredible primate species. Besides the a gorilla trek, delegates can embark upon a chimpanzee-trekking trip in the Nyungwe forest, or unwind on the sandy shores of Lake Kivu and explore this charming market town.

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