Coast hotels cash in on domestic tourism boom
Tourists on the Jomo Kenyatta Public Beach on December 30, the last Sunday of 2018. PHOTO | WACHIRA MWANGI | NMG
Hotels at the Kenya’s Coast region are enjoying a tourism boom over the festive season, with the biggest support coming from domestic tourists who have thronged the sandy beaches to usher in the New Year.
A spot-check shows most of the hotels in the region are operating at 100 percent bed occupancy ahead of the New Year.
Hoteliers say the occupancy rates are overwhelmingly local tourists.
The growing numbers of domestic visitors are attributed to improved infrastructure connectivity, including the Madaraka Express SGR train service between Mombasa and Nairobi.
“International tourists slow down at this season as local tourism grows. The domestic tourism comprise 60 to 70 per cent of the guests.
“In Diani, Kwale County, the airport is very busy flying in local tourists boosting the sector,” the Kenya Tourism Federation chairman Mohamed Hersi said.
In an interview on Sunday, the hotelier said seven flights arrived at the Ukunda airstrip ferrying in domestic tourists to usher in the new year.
“Many local tourists are also thronging the beaches in Diani and Mombasa, we are very optimistic that the sector will continue to thrive in 2019,” he added.
The beach hotels have lined up major entertainment activities for their guests as they enjoy brisk business
At the Sarova Whitesands Beach Resort and Spa revellers will be entertained by different musicians, including the Sauti Sol band and Gilad, who will grace the New Year’s Eve party at the facility.
Members of the Sauti Sol band arrive at the Sarova Whitesands Beach Resort and Spa on December 30, 2018. PHOTO | WACHIRA MWANGI | NMG
In Kwale, Kaskazi beach hotel sales manager Daniel Ogechi said they are expecting more than 400 guests.
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“We will have a Beach Party and a live band to entertain guests. We are expecting 400 guests, majority of whom are locals… We have also lined up a number of children activities,” Mr Ogechi said.
Sarova Whitesands general manager Siddharth Sathe lauded Kenyans for embracing domestic tourism and promoting the sector.
Mr Sathe said the hotel has enjoyed 100 percent occupancy during the December holidays and situation is still the same as the new year draws in visitors from all parts of the country.
“We also have international guests camping at the hotel, domestic tourists at the hotel form about 70 percent. The hotel has been full over this festive season. Our establishment is supported by domestic tourists,” Mr Sathe said during an interview with the Nation.
He said security has been beefed up at the hotel.
“With the help of police officers and other internal security procedures, within and around the hotel has been secure,” Mr Sathe said.
Security officers patrol along the Jomo Kenyatta Public Beach which is a usually packed during the December holidays. PHOTO | WACHIRA MWANGI | NMG
At Jomo Kenyatta public beach, one of the most crowded seashore during this festive season, police officers were seen patrolling to ensure security as the beach goers enjoy themselves.
Juma Masika, a lifesaver, said safety measures are very well stipulated at the beach.
“We have not witnessed any deaths at the beach. There are strict regulations placed prohibiting the visitors at the beach from indulging in activities that may lead to loss of life,” Mr Masika said.
However, small and medium enterprise (SMEs) owners along the beach complained of dwindling business compared with last year.
“Last year, we did not have empty chairs or sparsely populated areas at the beach. This year, the number of visitors is lower compared to last year. This is due to economic challenges in our country,” Mr Mbaraki said.
Musa Moses, a boat rider, said visitors are complaining of not having money.
“People will come at the beach, but they will not spend money on most of the facilities. For example, the for the boat rides we depend on international tourists,” he said.
Tourists at the Jomo Kenyatta Public Beach in Mombasa, December 30, 2018. FILE PHOTO | NMG