As the peak tourist season swings into high gear, seafront hotels in Mombasa, Malindi, Kwale and their environs are bracing themselves for a bumper holiday festive season.
A spot check by Kenya News Agency (KNA) showed that most of the beach hotels were fully booked as foreign and local tourists flock the Coastal resort towns.
The hotels, holiday apartments and cottages are recording heavy bookings and reservations as the long Christmas and New Year festivities beckon.
Hoteliers interviewed said advance bookings and reservations had been very encouraging with domestic holidaymakers accounting for the highest percentage.
The tourism stakeholders expressed optimism that the fragile sector is once again looking up after a prolonged electioneering period in 2017 that led to decline in international arrivals.
The hotel owners called for the expansion of the Malindi airport to allow for larger chartered and scheduled flights from Europe to land in the region.
They said currently, tourists from Europe have to travel by road to Malindi after landing at the Moi International Airport in Mombasa.
The General Manager (GM) of Ocean Beach Resort and Spa in Malindi, Maureen Awour said hotels were expecting brisk business during Christmas and the New Year following a rise in bookings by domestic tourists from Nairobi, Nakuru, Eldoret, Kisumu and Nyeri.
Ms. Awour said that high occupancy rates were expected in the coming weeks as the high tourist season gains momentum.
“For us we will remain fully booked from this week to the first week of January thanks to the December and New Year holidays,” she said during the interview on Friday.
She said domestic tourists had boosted hotel businesses in the tourist hub of Malindi as they came with their families from upcountry to relax on the pristine sandy beaches.
“The foreign and local tourists come in droves during the high season to enjoy the alluring clean, safe and sandy beaches in Malindi,” she said.
Ms. Awour who is also the chairperson of the Kenya Association of Hotelkeepers and Caterers (KAHC) Kilifi chapter said the tourists also engage in boating, fishing, diving and other recreational activities.
She noted that hotels have recorded more bookings due to corporate firms holding end year parties, Christmas dinners and team buildings.
On his part, Plan Group of Hotels General Manager (GM), Alexander Zissimatos said the hotel is fully booked for the December and New Year holidays with majority of the guests being local holidaymakers.
“Bookings for the holiday season have significantly improved and for us our 133 rooms will be full occupied from now through to the New Year,” he said.
Zissimatos said in a bid to diversify, add value and exploit the industry’s full potential they were currently building a state-of-the-art 500 people capacity conference facility in Malindi.
“Diversifying the hospitality industry is the key to promoting the full potential of the industry and increase patronage,” he said.
He revealed that tourism stakeholders have partnered with the county government of Kilifi to find a lasting solution to the beach operators whom he said were creating a nuisance on the beaches denting the country’s image as a destination of choice.
“Harassment of holidaymakers by beach operators compromise the maximum enjoyment of a visitor’s beach experience,” he noted.
He said the coastal counties of Kilifi, Mombasa, Kwale and Lamu need to deal firmly with the issue of beach boys who provide a high level of intrusion to the tourists walking briskly up and down the beaches.
“The hordes of beach boys make our beaches no longer serene and dent Kenya’s image abroad,” he observed.
By Hussein Abdullahi