Terrorism fears affect Easter bookings for Coast hotels
Negative publicity arising from last month’s terrorist attack on a church in Likoni, Mombasa, and associated terrorism threats, have hit Easter holiday bookings in hotels at the Coast.
Last month six people were killed and at least a dozen others injured when gunmen opened fire on worshippers at the Joy in Jesus church at Likoni.
The church attack and the controversy surrounding the radicalisation of Muslim youth in Mombasa, coupled with a wave of violent crime, have impacted negatively on the tourism sector.
According to Kenya Association of Hotelkeepers and Caterers Coast branch executive officer Sam Ikwaye, the wave of terrorism and crime comes at a time when hotel occupancy in the region has been averaging between 20 and 40 per cent in the low tourism season.
He said interenational bookings for Easter are expected to close at between 70 and 80 per cent compared to 100 per cent last year.
The insecurity situation in Mombasa, he added, had affected local bookings as well.
“Normally, many locals, especially from Nairobi, make bookings in large numbers,” he said, “but this time, it has been sluggish.”
But Sai Rock Hotel Group general manager Robert Kiri said that despite the odds, they expected around 80 per cent occupancy, the majority domestic tourists.
Stakeholders attribute the drop n the number of foreign visitors to the decline in chartered flights from Europe.
Travellers Beach Hotel general manager Freddie Kiuru said the hotel had so far registered 55 per cent bookings. To attract more guests, he said, the hotel had reduced the cost of its holiday packages for domestic tourists to Sh7,500 per person sharing on half-board from Sh9,400.
Mombasa and Coast Tourist Association chair Mohammed Hersi said hotels now depend on Turkish and Ethiopian airlines flights after some charter carriers discontinued flights.
Meanwhile, Mombasa County Commissioner Nelson Marwa insisted the region is safe, with increased security on beaches, in Likoni Channel and the airport.
Moi International Airport manager Yatich Kangugo said security has been stepped up at the airport with the receipt of specialised equipment from the British High Commission to detect explosives.
Mr Kangugo said the airport will soon have full body scanners installed as well.
“Stringent security measures are in place to ensure the safety of our visitors,” he said, adding that tuk tuks and boda bodas have been barred from accessing the airport area in a bid to reduce traffic congestion as well as possible threats.