“I don’t want to sound cynical, but this is what we told government would happen. What they gave us was speeches far from the reality on the ground, and now it has happened. Let’s see what they do now that thousands of workers have been laid off for the low season and fail to bring home a salary,” shot a regular coast-based source back at the question of how the situation is now that the Easter weekend mini rush to the coast from upcountry and in part from the wider region was over.
Information emerging from the Kenya coast, from Diani and beyond all the way to Malindi and Lamu, paints a bleak picture and affirms the worst fears hoteliers and tourism industry stakeholders have expressed for months now, as the traditional high season had turned into a low season of sorts and the present low season has for many resorts turned into a de facto no season.
Another source quoted the coast branch of the Kenya Association of Hotel Keepers and Caterers for having gone on record that in Malindi and Watamu half of the resorts have closed down for the low season, i.e. until the end of June or middle of July, though there is no certainty at present that they will in fact reopen as that will depend on the forward booking situation. Resorts in Lamu but also along the South coast of Mombasa too reported that they closed shop with their staff facing an uncertain future.
“With this now happening can this cabinet secretary of ours finally release the data of just how much we lost in 2013 compared to 2012. It is now nearly end of April and we demand that the statistics are released showing the true figures and not use the delay to doctor them like KWS allegedly does with poaching figures. And can we know from an authoritative source what charters will be coming to Mombasa from July onwards because that is a clear indicator of what business we can expect
“Easter was a mixed bag with some hotels doing better because of their reputation but in average it was much lower in occupancies compared to past years. Some in fact say they have never seen it so bad, worse than after the 82 coup attempt, worse than after the 92 Likoni riots and worse even than after the elections in late December 2007 and the subsequent violence. Can our government now please wake up and accept reality and that they made very grave errors in judgment with their tax increases and their failure to give KTB [Kenya Tourist Board] enough money to start recovery marketing 12 months ago and not for 12 months from now,” mentioned another regular Mombasa based source, giving a clear indication of the disenchantment with the tourism cabinet secretary and government at large.
This correspondent will next week head to the Kenya coast for a fact-finding mission to talk to stakeholders and gauge the strength of their sentiments and ascertain just how many resorts are now being shut down due to lack of business and how it compares to past years.