With endless terror attacks, Kenyans resigned to the thought that Tourism in Kenya was failing because the western world was worried that Kenya was not safe.
This could not be further from the truth. The terror attacks in Kenya had very little to do with the struggling tourism industry in Kenya.
“Back in the day, there existed a company by the name; African Safari Club. The company used to run a big percentage of the hotels in the coast region especially the North Coast on behalf of the owners and trust me business was booming back then” Says Kimeu who is a retired hotel manager.
“The company would operate a pool of hotels across the Coast, stretching all the way to Watamu and offer various affordable packages which they would in turn sell to tourists from all over the world.” He continues, something which was seconded by legendary producer and former artist Bruce Odhiambo.
Bruce Odhiambo who was part of Safari Sounds, one of the most successful bands from the 90’s reminisces of the good old times when Mombasa was a tourist haven. He was working alongside African Safari Club where they managed to always have gigs in these hotels and even abroad.
It was possible for a German National to come to Kenya for up to a week for as low as KSh 50,000 with all accommodation and flights catered for.
With these packages, it was easy to lure countless tourists to Kenya all the year around since the package was both attractive and friendly.
At some point, we are reliably told, African Safari Club fell out with the government or someone and that’s when things hit a gridlock.
The management of the hotels went back to its owners who weren’t pushed to market their services to the outside world. They owned the hotels anyway and they had no loans to pay so they were perfectly okay if the hotels happened to be totally empty.
They overpriced their services making it hard for the usual tourists to keep coming to Kenya. Most westerners or even Kenyans today would rather go on holiday to South Africa and Dubai than Kenya.
It is way cheaper in South Africa or Tanzania where they can still see wildlife without breaking the bank.
So with every passing year, the tourists from the west who don’t have that much to spend, stay away from Kenya opting for cheaper options.
Most of the hotels in the coastal region count losses and remain closed half the year.
We then take the high road and castigate the government for failing to counter terror attacks. In essence, we blame the right people for the wrong reasons.