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Hoteliers say bookings up during festive season

10 December 2014, 12:24

Nairobi - Hoteliers in the coastal region on Tuesday said they expect 80 percent booking of both domestic and regional tourists during this year's festive season despite security concerns in the country.

Stakeholders in tourism sector said hotels are banking on domestic tourists during and after Christmas into the New Year.

Sam Ikwaye, Executive Officer with Kenya Association of Hotel Keepers and Caterers (KAHC), told Xinhua in Mombasa that bed occupancy is expected to reach between 80 percent from the current 50 percent occupancy in majority of the beach hotels and cottages along the Coast.

"Many hotels have come up with very attractive rates, particularly for domestic and regional tourists. It's very important to note some hotels have recorded up to 70 and 80 percent bookings for the month of December," Ikwaye said.

He, however, expressed concern over the low number in international arrivals that has declined up to 70 percent due to travel advisories issued as result of frequent terror attacks.

"We have lost a good number of visitors particularly from key source markets. Once travel advisories are in place, it becomes expensive for visitors to make bookings. Their governments actually prohibit them from traveling," Ikwaye said.

Increased grenade and terror attacks in the coastal city of Mombasa and Nairobi, the capital, prompted Western countries to issue travel advisories in May to their nationals visiting the country, especially in areas near the border with Somalia.

Kenya's coastal towns are the backbone of the country's thriving tourism industry, which has been hit by the fear of terror attacks and the kidnapping of foreigners by Somali pirates from resorts near the border with Somalia.

The county government of Mombasa has lined up several festive events to attract high number of both local and foreign tourist.

County tourism executive Joab Tumbo said they have added new products of cultural cuisine tourism to supplement the existing beach tourism.

"Mombasa is known for its rich cultural diversity ranging from food to hospitality. Cuisine tourism will give visitors an opportunity to sample local dishes. We urge more visitors to tour the coastal city," Tumbo said.

Majority of the hotels have been surviving on conferences as insecurity in the coastal resort continued to eat into the sector. A number of hotels were forced to close down, with others reducing their staff after western countries including Britain and the U.S. issued travel advisories.

Also read: Security okay in Mombasa, tourists assured

Mombasa County commander Robert Kitur said they have set up proper security measures during the festive season. He said a special team of officers has been set up, to avert any possible attacks during the festive season.

"We have elaborated security plans where strategic areas have been mapped and officers in both uniform and undercover officers' deployed. We are prepared for any eventuality," said Kitur.

The Al-Shabaab terror group has warned of more retaliatory attacks in the country, particularly in Mombasa where radical Muslims have been executed and several youth arrested for engaging in terror activities.

Last month, four mosques were shut down by the state after a cache of firearms, grenades, crude weapons, bomb making materials and jihad literature were impounded.

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- Xinhua


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