Traders at the Malindi Tourist Market have appealed to the Kilifi County Government to waive this year’s licence fees in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
The traders, who sell curios, beaded sandals and other artefacts to tourists, said although they paid the fees at the beginning of the year, they had not been able to utilize the licences since their businesses closed down in March due to lack of tourists.
“We ask the county government to defer the fees we paid early this year to next year since we have not been able to utilise the licences we secured at the beginning of the year, Malindi Tourist Market Chairman Thomas Motondi said.
Mr Motondi, who was speaking to journalists at the market on Tuesday, lamented that the traders’ businesses had been adversely affected after the government closed down Kenya’s airspace as a measure to contain the pandemic.
The measure, they said, denied the market of international tourists who are their major customers.
“Since March this year, we have not been able to do any business due to the ban on international flights, leading to some of us closing our shops and others scaling down their operations with the hope of getting domestic customers,” he said.
The head of discipline and environment in the tourist market, Mrs. Clementine Etori, said that the traders are unable to adhere to the covid-19 protocols because of the slow income rate.
She also said that they cannot employ people to clean the market as well as watchmen to guard their products in the night.
“Due to the slow incomes, we are unable to buy water for customers to wash their hands. We do not have the money to pay people to look after our goods or tidy up the market,” said Mrs Etori.
She further added that the businesses had been facing several challenges such as inability to pay rent, wages to their employees and utility bills.
An employee at Mama Africana, Miss Eunice Nyanzarora, said that the absence of tourists had made them unable sell their products, saying some took up to a week to get a single customer.
“Before corona virus struck, we could make up Sh20,000 in a day, but currently, even making two thousand shillings is like a miracle,” she said.
A staff at Maridadi Enterprises, Miss Loice Wathoni, said that she views the pandemic as a wake-up call rather than a calamity, saying it could be used by the government and traders to be more creative in the tourism sector.
She urged the government to promote domestic tourism instead of over-relying on international tourism, which is very fragile in cases of pandemics such as the Covid-19.
“Local tourists should be given incentives to tour their own country, and this will make us sell our goods even in low tourism seasons,” she said adding, “Kenyans are also lovers of artefacts and with a little encouragement, domestic tourism can thrive.”
Miss Wathoni said she makes hand crafted artefacts, which she then exports abroad to countries such as Italy, America and Germany among others as well as locally, to Nairobi.
By KNA Team