The foreign tourism market in the resort town of Malindi has dropped drastically this season following the global economic crisis . The downturn has largely affected Italy the major market relied upon in the resort town's hotel industry.
Most of the hotels which depend on the Italian tourists are now empty and only hope to get a few tourists a few days before Christmas and new year vacation.
Kenya Hotel Keepers and Caterers Association North Coast Chairman Philip Chai told the Star yesterday that they were now hoping to get clients from December 22 to January 3.
Speaking on the phone, he said they expect an increase in the number of domestic tourists who have already made bookings. "The situation is not good. Hotel and beaches are empty and at this time normally all hotels are fully booked up to January," he said.
Chai said the over reliance on the Italian market had really affected the sector in the past three years and unless the hoteliers begin focusing on diverse market things shall get to worse.
Currently he said the potential of the local market was high as people were willing to travel and explore their country and only required the operators to promote it.
At the same time Chai said the poor state of the rod contributed a lot to the decline in the tourism sector. The roads which raised protests by residents are in pathetic condition with many pot holes.
"The bad roads and poor drainage systems are some of the contributing factors affecting us in Malindi, Its up to us as Kenyans to address the issue," he said.
He appealed to civic leaders,Provincial administration and other stakeholders to join hands and address the issue quickly so as to set up the good image of the town.
Malindi is a major tourist hub that attracts thousands of tourists both locals and foreigners each year. because of its fine beaches and other attractions such as the Tsavo national park and Arabuko forests.
However because of over reliance to one market the Italian operations are usually seasonal forcing some workers to be lid off from April to July each year. Two weeks ago the Italian Conulate in Malindi Roberto Macri said they expect the market to decline by 30 percent .