President Kenyatta hosts historic tourism summit at State House Mombasa


(Posted 31st August 2016)

Some 150 tourism stakeholders from the entire Kenya coast but also from Nairobi and further upcountry will be meeting later today with President Uhuru Kenyatta at State House in Mombasa to discuss added urgent measures to more fully revive the sector.
While arrivals in Nairobi have been boosted by a number of high profile international conferences and events, benefitting not just the hotels in the city but also safari lodges and camps through pre- and post-conference tours, has the coast lagged behind the trend.
Charter flights are still way down compared to the peak days in 2011 and in particular charters from the UK remain notably absent.
While the government has put incentives into place for charter airlines flying to Mombasa has this as yet not yielded the intended results and the coast tourism industry remains alarmed over the slow pace of recovery.
Leading tourism stakeholders have for some years now demanded that the international airport in Mombasa be opened up for global airlines, which can fly nearly unrestricted to such island destinations like Seychelles, Mauritius and even Zanzibar but have met with regulatory resistance over traffic right issues which would make the flights financially viable.
Cost burdens too will be raised by the tourism industry and no doubt will county governments come under fire over their constant attempts to extract if not outright extort new levies and fees from hotels, which continue to struggle with low occupancies and high cost for utilities.
Some coastal destinations are reportedly even worse off, in part caused by poor infrastructure to get there such as the notorious bottleneck Likoni Ferry, short runways of local airports and airfields and expensive loans preventing major upgrades and refurbishments, among other reasons cited by coast tourism stakeholders to this correspondent. Another reason given was the cost of airfares from Nairobi to coast destinations like Lamu, Malindi, Mombasa and Ukunda which are regularly described as prohibitively high and therefore failing to support the coast hospitality industry.
I wait and see what is coming out of this meeting. For one I like to know what progress has been made to implement the recovery plan submitted to government last year. I want to know what measures are in place to have affordable finance made available to the sector. We all like to know when traffic rights are given to the likes of Qatar Airways and when FlyDubai will begin to bring tourists to Mombasa. And I like to know why people like you are not invited to cover the event when we need all the good publicity we can get‘ commented a regular source from Mombasa when discussing the issue a few minutes ago.

Be sure you watch this space for an update as and when details of the meeting become available either later today or tomorrow (Thursday).