The Star (Nairobi)

Kenya: Coast Hoteliers Worried Over Drop in Visitors

HOTELIERS at the Coast are concerned over the decline in the number of foreign tourists saying the trend might hurt the sectors earnings this year. They attributed the trend to fewer direct flights from Kenya's traditional markets like Europe and United States.

Mombasa and Coast Tourist Association chair Mohammed Hersi said this calls for innovation and incentives among tourism service providers to attract and maintain more tourists.

"Tourists from our traditional destinations are facing a number of challenges ranging from the economic crisis in their countries to lack of adequate incentives locally," he said.

Hersi who is also the chief executive of Heritage Group of Hotels said they have been heavily depending on the domestic market but this a time-limit.

He said most hotels have recorded a 70 per cent bed occupancy during the festive season despite this being the climax in the tourism calender.

"There is need to innovate ways of attracting tourists from overseas to visit our country in spite of the challenges they face at home. We are worried hotels will soon be deserted after the New Year festive season," he said.

He said competition has increased recently and Kenya is facing about 34 countries competing for tourists from the same catchment area.

The number of direct charters to Mombasa's Moi International Airport from Europe, USA among other countries in the West have decreased this year.

"While other countries competing with us are determined to ensure that tourists enjoy rewards for visiting them, we have remained adamant in that area," he said. Hersi said reduction of visa fees could reverse the trend and boost the number of foreign visitors.

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