Hotels shift gears with eyes on local tourists

Local tourists enjoy the sun at the poolside of a resort in Mombasa in October.

Photo credit: Kevin Odit | Nation Media Group

A jump in Covid-19 cases coupled with minimal hope of getting international visitors has forced hotels to shift gears targeting the local market with special packages.

Hotels in Diani, Taita Taveta, Malindi, Lamu and Mombasa have all cut their prices with hope of catching the eye of locals.

Southern Palms Beach Resort Managing Director Mahmoud Elda said the Diani-based hotel has slashed boarding costs by half alongside other offers.

"Our rooms are now going for half the rates to match and attract the domestic tourists. Right now, we are trying to woo local businesses because we have no choice. We believe the domestic tourism will support the market," said Mr Elda.

According to Salt Lick and Taita Lodges General Manager Willy Mwadilo, delay in recovery of international tourism is their main headache.

"Our target market is local. We cannot continue being ambitious with our rates because people do not have that money," he said.

Mr Mwadilo who is also the Kenya Association of Hotelkeepers and Caterers Tsavo and Amboseli Chairperson, said he remains positive despite a resurgence in coronavirus.

Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) said hoteliers should see the need to remodel their business strategies in order to attract local tourists to remain afloat.

In an interview with the Nation KTB public relations and corporate manager Wausa Walya, said this year has been hard due to massive cancellations and travel restrictions by different countries. "We should turn this pandemic into an opportunity for Kenyans to rediscover what their country offers in terms of tourism and unique destinations such as Lamu," Ms Walya said.

Lamu House Hotel operations Manager Dominic Mulu said most of their clients are now local after they adjusted their prices lowering them by 65 percent.

"Our intention is to promote local tourism for our people. Going forward we will be focusing on domestic tourism," he said.

An increase in local flights to Manda Airport in Lamu from Wilson Airport has also been a key player in growing tourism in Lamu. Baobab Beach Resort Manager Gabriel Kipsang commended the domestic market for being supportive in recovery of the hospitality industry.

Kenya Tourism Federation Chairperson Mohammed Hersi earlier said the government should relax some of the measures placed in order to attract some foreign tourists who are fleeing biting winter.

"I think we are losing a lot of time about the PCR test (Covid-19 certificate). Even if it will not be lifted altogether, at least take it to seven days of 14 days because somebody in North America is finding it very difficult in the window of 96 hours. By the time they land here, the 96 hours is over and they are being quarantined, " he said.

He added "You cannot complain about bad business when you are still closed. Countries such as Tanzania and Egypt have relaxed their rules while Maldives have opened their doors," he said.

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