By JOACKIM BWANA
Mombasa, Kenya: Tourism and hotel industry stakeholders say terrorist attacks and travel advisories have led to low hotel bookings and tourist arrivals at the Coast.
Mombasa Continental Resort general manager Charles Gichohi said despite Kenya being a popular tourist destination in the East Africa Region offering better products than its competitors including Zanzibar and Tanzania, insecurity is really dragging the tourism sector down.
He was addressing more than 100 tour firm operators at a dinner held at the Mombasa Continental Resort during a tour operator’s retreat organised by the hotel.
Gichohi said it is time the tourism sector in Kenya concentrated on local tourism and diversified its markets because its major market in Europe is dwindling.
“The government also needs to beef up security at the Coastal region, and the country at large, for the sake of the tourism sector which makes a significant contribution to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP),” he said.
Gichohi said that for the last few months the number of tourists booking into hotels has decreased from the usual 80 per cent to 32 per cent.
He said the decrease in tourist’s numbers has cost, and continues to cost the hotel industry dearly. This is especially because must hotels had pumped in a lot of money in renovating their facilities with the hope that they would recover their investments during the high season when tourists start arriving in large numbers.
“We had anticipated a good high season marked by the arrival of many visitors. However, with these terror threats and attacks, we have not even hit half our target. This means we are already running at a loss. This is not good for business at all,” Gichohi said.
Rosemary Nyakarura, the Mombasa Continental Resort marketing manager said the tourism industry now seeks to sell and diversify its services and products into the Asian and Middle East countries as well as tap local tourists in an attempt to widen its market base.
Nyakarura said Mombasa Continental Resort hopes its partnership with the tour firms will be fruitful.
“Since we started collaborating with tour operators, we have achieved a more than 30 per cent increase in the number of tourists being facilitated by the tour firms,” she said.
She said the introduction of Jumbo jet flights to Mombasa, three flights from Ethiopia in a week and direct flights from Dubai by Kenya Airways has made them hopeful and they are looking forward to an increase in the number of tourists and visitors checking into Coastal hotels.