By Anne Mburu
Improved bookings by both domestic and international tourists have stakeholders in the coastal region optimistic of the recovery of the sector.
Players in the sector are now gearing up for a busy holiday season following improved bookings in hotels from both international and domestic holiday makers.
This comes even as most key source markets lifted travel bans issued against Kenya following a series of attacks at the coast that have since stopped after the security machinery in the country upped their act.
A spot check by Channel One has shown that the first time in eight years, the coastal region is slowly reclaiming its lost glory as a preferred tourist destination.
This month alone has seen two cruise ships dock at the port of Mombasa with over 2000 tourists onboard from America and Europe.
The sector which is considered Kenya’s biggest foreign exchange earner has been adversely affected by effects of the post election violence, piracy as well as terrorism all of which have been dealt with by the government.
The Kenya Tourism Board Managing Director Ndegwa Murithii says the rising number of cruise liners calling at the Mombasa port is a clear indication of the recovery of the tourism sector as well as an endorsement for Kenya as a favourite tourism destination.
The South Coast boasts of having been nominated for the second consecutive year as Africa’s leading beach destination at the Travel Awards putting beaches at Diani at the top of the world map.
Kwale County governor Salim Mvurya says the county has set aside 5 million shillings to revamp the tourism sector to ensure the title for the best beach destination remains at the South Coast.
Last month the 5th annual Magical Kenya travel expo that brought together 176 exhibitors from Europe, Africa, Asia and the United States of America was held at the S. Coast, giving the exhibitors a chance to sample Diani beaches and Kenya at large.
It was then that Tourism Cabinet Secretary Phylis Kandie noted that the government is keen to ensure that it takes full advantage of such occasions to market the country.
Diani Reef Resort and Spa general manager Titus Kangangi says that vendors along the beach line have continued to harass tourists in the name of selling souvenirs.
They are now calling upon the Ministry of East Africa Affairs, Commerce & Tourism to fast track the adoption of the Tourism act 2011.
Meanwhile, Infrastructure remains the biggest challenge to the tourism industry. Tourists heading to the south coast are faced with the ever stalling ferries at the Likoni crossing channel while those heading to the north coast are stuck in traffic jams both along the Nyali Bridge and the Makupa causeway from the airport.
But even with all the challenges facing the tourism sector, hoteliers are keen to offer the best packages to tourists this festive season.