Tourists assured of security as elections approach

Local tourists play water polo game

Local tourists play a water polo game at the Bamburi Beach Hotel in Mombasa. The tourism sector is enjoying booming business from local visitors and conferencing, particularly with the easing of Covid-19 restrictions.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Security officers will be deployed to hotels on the Coast to provide security for tourists ahead of Tuesday’s General Election.

This comes as the tourist high season starts, with more international visitors expected.

Kwale County Commissioner Gideon Oyagi said security agents will be deployed to guard hotels and beaches.

Mr Oyugi added that normal patrols will also continue in other areas, with more emphasis on highly populated areas such as Ukunda and Diani.

There is already heightened security in Mombasa and Tana River counties.

In Kwale County, General Service Unit (GSU) officers have been patrolling the Lungalunga-Likoni highway.

Tourism stakeholders lauded the move and exuded confidence that the polls would be peaceful.

“We have been assured that there are plans in place to ensure that all tourist areas are protected. Campaigns have been peaceful and non-disruptive except for a few isolated incidents,” said Kenya Coast Tourism Association CEO Julius Owino.

He said most hotels are operating at 40 to 50 per cent bed occupancy, higher than the numbers recorded in previous election years.

“We have tried to compare other years and this year’s bookings and they look stable. We only expect to have a small slump next week, but ideally, we are going to go back to normal operations and get higher numbers very soon,” he said.

The global market, he said, has shown confidence in Kenya’s elections, with fewer advisories issued ahead of the polls.

Meanwhile, the Kenya Association of Women in Tourism has asked politicians to shun divisive politics that could lead to chaos.

“The elections are an opportunity for the country to show confidence that it is safe for both leisure and business. This can only happen if all the people live in harmony,” said Janet Chamis, the association's Mombasa chairperson.

Earlier this year, stakeholders had stated that political campaigns and the elections should not be a problem for anyone who wanted to visit Kenya.

Tourism has been stabilising since the disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020.

Most visitors to the Coast have been Kenyans, with the international market slowly picking up after countries relaxed their travel regulations.

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