Kenya seeks tourists with an eye for nightlife

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Soon travel agents will be advising tourists travelling to Kenya not to leave their dancing shoes behind if they really want to experience the destination.

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Soon travel agents will be advising tourists travelling to Kenya not to leave their dancing shoes behind if they really want to experience the destination.

The country is working at positioning itself as a nightlife destination in the region in a bid to expand its range of products for tourists, especially in Nairobi. The city has in the past few years been growing its nightlife, especially for the locals, with new clubs opening around the town.

Streets in Nairobi’s Central Business District and on the outskirts — like Westlands and Museum Hill — have been welcoming new clubs catering to various tastes.

In addition, the city has new eateries boasting various themes from Thai to traditional African foods to captivate both the local and international market. Casinos have also sprouted around the city increasing the night life attractions. To tap into this the country’s tourism promotion body, Kenya Tourist Board (KTB), is now looking at the growing nightlife to market Kenya as an all round tourism destination.

KTB is now promoting nightlife attractions such as casinos, cafes, nightclubs and 24-hour facilities — like supermarkets — as part of what the country has to offer tourists. Ms Rose Kwena, KTB’s public relations manager, states that nightlife is beginning to take shape in Nairobi as more investors have started putting up facilities that meet international standards.

She adds that for a long time, Nairobi has mainly remained a stop over place where tourists only pass through before heading for their holidays in the national parks or the coast.

“We are now promoting the city and its nightlife by telling tourists not to go straight to their main holiday destination, but to spend a few nights in Nairobi to sample the city before proceeding on,” she told Business Daily.

In the last five years, the city has seen a major transformation with streets and lanes becoming more vibrant in the evenings. In addition, security in the town centre has also improved with street lights being installed.

This in turn has led to the springing up of a host of businesses like the recently opened Paradise Casino along Kimathi Street. Besides the newly opened eateries and clubs, an Internet search on nightlife attractions in the city recognises older attractions like Florida International and Carnivore Restaurant.

These two have been around for years and have withstood high and low tourist season.

Business Daily caught up with the entertainment manager of Carnivore, Ms Julie Munyi-Ogwapit, who noted that only a few tourists actually ventured into the Simba Saloon, the disco side of the restaurant.

According to her most tourists mainly visit the Carnivores Restaurant to sample its wide range of meat delicacies. “The disco side is mainly supported by the locals who make up 90 per cent of the business, but after enjoying their meals you find tourists venturing to the floor,” she added.

Carnivore is one of the most recognised nightlife destinations in the city, both locally and internationally, and with its added products like cultural nights and urban legend on Thursdays, it will be one of the attractions tourists are expected to flock.

According to an international travel website that offers travel information and allows tourists to add their personal experiences, Wold66 said the restaurant is a must go for anyone planning an evening in the city.

The website goes ahead to advice tourists wishing to enjoy the local scene to start at a bar “as most clubs and discos in Kenya do not get busy until midnight and do not close until the sun rises.”

However, for Nairobi to match up the international competition it will have to face the challenge of insecurity and ensure the city maintains good quality facilities. Various countries have marketed their cities or islands as major nightlife destinations and earned income from this.

One well known destination is Ibiza, an Island in Spain. Ibiza, referred to as the “entertainment island of the world” by the Guinness Book of World Records, has a reputation as a party island with excellent nightclubs attracting a high number of tourists from around the world.

While other destinations like Monte Carlo, Nice, Cannes and St. Tropez — the quartet of French cities — offer tourists long days on the beach and even longer nights at elegant casinos, fine restaurants and hot nightclubs.

These islands, and their popularity, have also been able to attract international events like the Cannes Film Festival which attracts Hollywood to the French island. Other destinations, especially cities in Europe, Johannesburg and Cape Town, boast nightlife scenes that include underground clubs, beer gardens and cool lounges.

However Kenya is offering an edge to these cities, a safari or beach tour accompanied by a vibrant nightlife and all the major global tastes all found in one destination.

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About the author


Editor in chief is Linda Hohnholz.