Coastal hotels turn to local tourists with festive season deals

Tourists

Tourists at Bamburi Beach Hotel in Mombasa in this photo taken on November 20, 2021. 

Photo credit: Jeff Angote | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Coastal hotels, which have about 40,000 beds, is currently enjoying around 80 percent occupancy with most tourists being locals.
  • At Taita Hills and Salt Lick Safaris Lodge, the hotel is offering safari package where its guests will enjoy watching wild animals.

Hotels in the coast region, hard-hit by disruptions in international tourism, are turning to domestic revellers with sweetener deals to salvage their fortunes in the peak festive season.

Coastal hotels, which have about 40,000 beds, is currently enjoying around 80 percent occupancy with most tourists being locals.

Hoteliers have come up with attractive festive-friendly packages and incentives to entice local tourists such as a 20 to 25 percent discount for early bird bookings, free accommodation for children below five years old, and further negotiated rates with airlines. 

The move has seen most hotels fully booked.

“At Silver Palm Spa and Resort we have stays with free nights. For instance, you pay three nights and stay four. The payment plan mean you pay any amount until you complete before arrival. Fly-in package combines flight transfers, accommodation and big group discounts. This has helped in our uptake,” said general manager Michel Otieno.

Domestic tourists

Kenya Coast Tourism Association chief executive Julius Owino, said most hotels are almost fully booked with domestic tourists from Nairobi, Kisumu, Nanyuki, Eldoret and other regions.

“This is sending a message that the focus should be on the domestic market, including tailoring the products and prices for this niche. Instead of charging high due to the international tourists influence it is now fair charges,” he said.

Mr Owino said hotels, which were charging around Sh20,000 a night half board, have slashed the prices to Sh15,000 to attract the domestic market. However, he said December being a peak season prices are slightly high for the local tourists.

“Hoteliers used to double their prices but things have changed. They have realised domestic market can sustain this sector. Individual hotels have come up with packages enticing local clients that’s why hotels are full. 

“The Christmas week, you will not get any occupancy in a beach hotel because most of them are full,” he said.

Safari package

Mr Owino decried the heightened political temperature that will further affect the sector. 

However, he said the intentional market will thrive in 2023 after the  General Election.

At Taita Hills and Salt Lick Safaris Lodge, the hotel is offering safari package where its guests will enjoy watching wild animals.

“Domestic tourism is the lifeline for tourism in Kenya. We are 99 percent domestic reliant due to a slump in the international market. We have attractive packages after partnering with standard gauge railways to ferry our tourists,” said Mr Willie Mwadilo, the hotel’s general manager.

The hotel, which is at the heart of private Taita Hill Sanctuary bordering Tsavo West National Park, lamented over the government directives barring unvaccinated tourists in the facilities that saw his facility get 58 cancellations. However, due to the festive peak season, the facility managed to replace the clients.

“We are coming from turbulence we were making progress before we were slapped by the state. But the industry is looking up thanks to the domestic market,” said Mr Mwadilo.

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