Five tourist hotels have closed down in Malindi following a massive cancellation of holidays by European tourists, the Italian Consul confirmed on Wednesday.
Coast hoteliers have urged the government to waive visa and landing fees to attract tourists and resumption of chartered flights. Many hotels are now operating at below 10 percent bed occupancy. The five hotels are Coconut Village, Malindi Beach, Tropical Village, Bush Baby and Angels Bay in Mambrui.
Mr Robert Macri of the Italian Consul said about 4,000 employees of the closed hotels and others which have been operating at very low occupancies had been declared redundant and sent home.
Coast branch chairman of the Kenya Association of Hotelkeepers and Caterers Association Mohammed Hersi said over 20,000 employees had been sent home in the region, and more would have to follow unless the situation improves.
Mr Hersi, who is also the Sarova Whitesands Beach Resort general manager, said most hotels were operating with a bed occupancy of between 20 to below 10 per cent because there were no charter flights or bookings.
Many tourists cancelled their holiday bookings following the eruption of election-related violence late last month. But the Italian Consul said its government had declared the Kenyan coast safe for its nationals to visit, though areas between Nairobi and Lake Victoria have been classified as unsafe.
Mr Macri said Italy’s travel advisory remains in force but the country had not banned its nationals from visiting Kenya.
In related news, the North Coast Tourist Officer Mr Nixon Makhoha said the number of tourists visiting Tsavo National Park from Malindi had plunged from 600 to just one.
And hoteliers at the coast have urged the Government to waive visa and landing fees to encourage tourists to return. At a meeting on Tuesday evening, Mr Hersi said a waiver of the US$50 (about Sh3,500) fee could help to attract tourists and encourage resumption of charter flights.
The hoteliers also appealed to the State to give 10 per cent of the revenue from tourism to the Kenya Tourist Board to assist in countering effects of post-poll violence.
Continue marketing In Mombasa, tourists urged Consuls and tour agents to continue marketing the country as a preferred holiday destination.
They also told their governments to lift travel advisories, saying the blanket ban was unnecessary and would only serve to harm the people of Kenya and their economy.
“Such bans should only be placed on specific areas but not Mombasa,” said David Hinnrichs, a Scottish tourist who is determined to fully enjoy his five weeks of holiday together with his family.