IT IS TEARS AMONG STAFF AS THE INDIAN OCEAN BEACH RESORT CLOSES
(Posted 30th September 2013)
Inspite of upbeat noises by tourism marketers is reality today hitting home, as another South Coast resort, the Indian Ocean Beach Resort, closes its doors for lack of business.
Announced already a while ago by the proprietors, who also own and manage the Nairobi based Jacaranda Hotel, the Village Inn in Kiambu and the Lake Elementaita Lodge, that they would have to close down and make some 300 staff redundant, should the business climate not dramatically improve, the day has now come to see the last faithful guests leave, no new ones check in and the staff, many of them in a tearful good bye, for the last time clock out and leave the resort, with no re-opening date in sight.
Industry sources were swift to point out that this development did not come as a result of the recent Westgate calamity but that the writing was on the wall for a while now, as more and more charter flights withdrew from Mombasa, which once upon a time accounted for over 60 percent of Kenya’s tourism arrivals.
‘We can only reiterate our call for government to come up with rapid relief and concessions for the sector, for a new open sky policy for Mombasa to attract more scheduled airlines to fly to the coast and to really kickstart our recovery marketing programme which we needed before the elections – the last government failed our sector very badly here – and since the elections in March. We need to have VAT on tourism services removed which was recently introduced, we need affordable finance from KTDC to upgrade our resorts and innovate our product and we should consider to half our Visa fee again like we did in 2008. There are measures which can bring swift relief and others will take a while to take root but if we do nothing, then nothing will change’ said a depressed sounding regular source from the coast when asked to add his comments.
Diani Beach has regularly been voted as one of the world’s greatest beaches for holidays and yet have as many as 7 resorts closed over the past years and only one, the Swahili Beach Hotel, opened in late 2011. For now, and today, it is a very sad Kwaheri to the Indian Ocean Beach Resort and only time will tell if the ‘Ya Kuonana’ will one day be added and the resort can reopen and welcome the both new and old guests back.