The Star (Nairobi)

15 April 2014

Kenya: Domestic Tourists Boost Coast Easter Hotel Bookings

HOTELS at the Coast are banking on domestic tourism which has shown a positive trend despite the recent security concerns in Mombasa. Hoteliers are optimistic that bookings in Mombasa, Malindi and Diani in the south Coast which has ranged between 30 and 40 per cent in the last five months could hit 80 per cent during the Easter period.

A number of hotels in the region have been surviving on conferences with others contemplating to lay off workers to reduce operation costs. According to the Kenya Association of Hotel Keepers and Caterers, hotels in Mombasa are now at an average of 70 per cent.

The association's chief executive Sam Ikwaye attributed the boost to domestic tourists from Mombasa residents, Nairobi and other East African states.

"Kenyans are patriotic and they know Mombasa is a safe holiday destination that is why they have checked in for Easter. We also have bookings from Uganda and other countries together with international tourists despite the fact that we are going into the low season," Ikwaye said in Mombasa yesterday.

According to the Mombasa and Coast Tourism Association, Nairobi residents have played a major role in raising the numbers. "We can't stop thanking our Nairobi people. Easter is looking good with almost full bookings for Friday, Saturday and Sunday," said MCTA chairman Moham

Heritage Hotels main facility in Mombasa - Voyager Beach Resort is currently above 80 per cent according to Hersi who is also the group CEO. Sarova Whitesands Beach Resort and Spa had by yesterday recorded bed occupancy of 89 per cent with 50 per cent being domestic tourists.

Acting general manager Mike Kamau however said the numbers are expected to increase before Good Friday as they expect more arrivals. The country's tourism sector especially Mombasa had been affected by the recent terror related incidences which slowed down bookings.

Poor infrastructure in towns across the coastal region, filthy towns and harrasment of tourists by beach operators has also been blamed for the low numbers.

However, Hersi yesterday expressed confidence that the industry will do well as security in Mombasa has improved. He accused the United Nations office in Nairobi and some foreign embassies of painting a negative picture of the country.

"They are indicating that Mombasa is not safe. Mombasa is one of the safest cities in the world. We ask them to stop making Mombasa look like a war zone as we all know this is among top tourist destinations in the world," said Hersi.

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