Mombasa, Friday, April 20, 2018 KNA by Mohamed Hassan
The Coastal city of Mombasa is experiencing an upsurge of holiday apartments and home stays driven by growth in tourism and hospitality services.
The investment in fully furnished accommodation facilities is attributed to the rising numbers of both local and international tourists visiting Mombasa and other coastal areas.
Homestay service is a form of tourism allowing visitors seeking authentic experiences to stay and live with local families to better learn their lifestyle.
A spot check by KNA found that prime areas where construction of new serviced apartments is sprouting up are Nyali, Bamburi, Shanzu and Mtwapa.
The increased demand for accommodation in Mombasa have also seen a considerable number of private homes being converted into accommodation spaces to help plug demand for beds during high seasons.
According to stakeholders in the tourism industry, the mushrooming of alternative accommodation facilities shows the sector has a bright future.
Tourism is a major economic activity in coast region which accounts for 65% of tourists visiting the country.
The Chief Executive Officer of Kenya Association of Hotels and Caterers (KAHC) Sam Ikwaye said ‘investment in apartments is due to rising popularity of self-catering accommodation, a preference of locals traveling with families’.
Ikwaye said the tourism sector is becoming more vibrant and trans-formative where apartments and home stays were becoming more popular with young families due to their flexibility.
“A modern tourist no longer fancies beach holidays and instead prefer areas with more freedom and easy access to meals and drinks,” said the KAHC officials during an interview with KNA on Friday.
However, Ikwaye said these facilities must be registered with the Tourism Regulatory Authority (TRA) for proper record and documentation of their activities.
He lamented that some visitors prefered apartments because they provided cover for unlawful activities such as phonography and usage of illicit drugs.
“There is need for the TRA and police to conduct regular inspection on these facilities to ensure they follow the law,” added Ikwaye.
At the moment, Mombasa County has a total of 250 hotels and 25 apartments that are registered with the TRA.
General Manager of Travelers Beach Hotel and Club Fred Kiuru said the tourism industry has shown signs of improvement and continued to recover from the insecurity setbacks.
“The emerging of alternative accommodation is a big boost to the sector,” said Kiuru.
He also said the tough days for the industry were over and stakeholders were upbeat following significant increase of enquiries from international travel agents in traditional and emerging markets.
The recent statistics provided by the Ministry of Tourism and Kenya Tourist Board (KTB) shows the industry was growing steadily and the number of both international and local visitors is going up.
KTB disclosed that the industry last year received 1.4 million foreign tourists and earned the country a total of Sh120 billion.
Domestic tourism also recorded impressive numbers as it increased from 3.6 million in 2016 to four million last year.
Most of the existing hotels including the established ones have embarked on major improvement and expansion of their facilities to claim a share in this lucrative business.
Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala recently challenged stakeholders in the industry to improve their products to boost the sector.
Balala said the number of both international and local tourists was expected to increase this year following renewed confidence in Kenya as a favourite destination of choice.
Those interviewed mentioned improved infrastructure, enhanced security and introduction of standard gauge railway (SGR) as key reasons that prompted more people to invest in tourism and hospitality industry.