Wednesday, 11 January 2017

KENYA: Tourism Industry Banking On Conference Tourism And Domestic Tourists

The tourism industry is now banking on conferences and domestic tourists to promote the sector after the end of the festive season.

Hotels in Mombasa, Kwale, Kilifi and Lamu counties cashed in on roaring business as many Kenyans flocked to the region for Christmas and New Year's Day.

A majority of the tourists were locals from Nairobi, Nakuru, Eldoret and Kisumu.

Sam Ikwaye, the Kenya Association of Hotelkeepers and Caterers's (KAHC) Coast branch executive officer, said some hotels were fully booked during the periods.

He said most of them had occupancy rates of between 70 and 80 per cent over Christmas and New Year's Day compared with 40-50 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.

Mr Ikwaye said that now businesses are relying on conference tourism to stay afloat.

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

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

Mr Chai said business was slowing down after the end of the holiday festivities.

He urged industry players to promote domestic and conference tourism.

"In recent years, we have been experiencing a 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.

Sai Rock Hotel General Manager Robert Kiri said bookings are expected to be boosted by conferences organised by the national and county governments and non-governmental organisations.