Hotels at Coast banking on conferences

Kenya Association of Hotelkeepers and Caterers (KAHC) Coast branch executive officer Sam Ikwaye

After the busy festive season came to an end on Monday, hotels at the Coast are now banking on conferences and domestic tourism to stay afloat.

Hotels in Mombasa, Kwale, Kilifi and Lamu counties enjoyed roaring business as a result of many Kenyans who flocked to the region for Christmas and New Year.

Majority of the tourists were locals from Nairobi, Nakuru, Eldoret and Kisumu, as many parents took advantage of the school holidays to pour in for holiday with their children.

According to Kenya Association of Hotelkeepers and Caterers (KAHC) Coast branch executive officer Sam Ikwaye, some hotels were packed to capacity during the festive season thanks to domestic tourism.

Most of them, he said, had occupancy of between 70 per cent and 80 per cent over Christmas and New Year compared with 40 and 50 per cent in 2015.

“We must appreciate that domestic tourism boosted hotel guest numbers during the festive season as international visitors were very few,” he said.

After the festive season ended on Monday and in the wake of reopening of schools, most of the hotels have been hit by low business.

The KAHC official said current hotel occupancy in Mombasa County is averaging at between 50 per cent and 60 per cent while Kwale and Kilifi Counties at 50 per cent and 40 per cent, respectively.

“At the moment, international guest numbers are below 10 per cent, therefore the hotels across the region pin their hopes on conferences and locals to remain in business,” he explained.

In Kilifi County, the KAHC Malindi and Watamu branch chairman Philip Chai said 70 per cent of the hotel guests were locals during the festive season.

At the moment, he said, hotels in the two resort towns have been hit by low business after local guests concluded their holidays.

Mr Chai called on hotel-owners to promote domestic and conference tourism to help revive the industry.

“In recent years, we have been experiencing low number of tourists from the Italian market. Time has come for tourism players to find ways of attracting locals to uplift the industry,” he said.

In Mombasa, Sarova Whitesands Beach Resort general manager Raj Jadhav, said the hotel which was packed to capacity during the New Year, now has occupancy of 50 per cent.

 “During Christmas and New Year, 95 per cent of our guests were locals while the rest were international visitors from the East African region and overseas markets,” he added.

However, he said, domestic bookings are expected to jump to 60 per cent from next week following upcoming conferences from both the public and the private sector.

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