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According to tourism stakeholders, the hotels have already started receiving both local and international bookings following the lifting of travel advisories by Britain and U.S. in the wake of relative calm in the tourism resort region.

Speaking to Xinhua, the hoteliers said the season looks brighter compared to last year when the region was facing terrorist attacks that forced many hotels to closedown and sack thousands of staff.

Kenya Coast Tourists Association executive officer Millicent Odhiambo said several hotels such as Temple Point, Coral Key, Eden Rock and Hemingways Resort, in Malindi and Watamu in Kilifi County are operational.

The four were part of the 21 hotels that were closed down at the coast for several months due to poor business occasioned by travel advisories that were issued by the western nations.

Britain, Australia, France and United States are major tourism source markets and the issuance of the travel advisories led to massive cancellations in hotel bookings in the region.

“We are now optimist that the tourism sector is on recovery path since most hotels are now opening to tap both local and foreign visitors during this high season,” said Odhiambo.

The East African nation has been a soft target for terrorist activities since 1998 and the menace has evolved as radical groups from the Horn of Africa infiltrate the country to kill and maim innocent civilians.

Kenya which has grand safaris, a view of Mt. Kilimanjaro and white sand beaches along the Indian Ocean, relies heavily on the currency of foreigners that travel to see the wildlife and natural beauty of the land.

A string of terror attacks in recent months has culminated with the mass evacuation of tourists following two explosions that killed ten and injured seventy-six.

Cabinet Secretary for Commerce and Tourism Phyllis Kandie said the country is now safe for foreign visitors.
“The trouble terror attacks were suffered are now over, we are now embarked to vigorous rebranding to deal with negative publicity to boost the sector,” said Kandie during the 40th Africa Travel Association Congress underway in Nairobi.

“The trouble [terror attacks] we suffered is over. But we have to deal with negative publicity,” she said.

Experts say Western governments are risk adverse and issue travel advisories as a means of ensuring that if anything happens to their nationals in a foreign country, they, their governments will not be held responsible.

Chief executive of the Diani Reef Beach Resort, Titus Kangangi said hotels at the south Coast are receiving more business and corporate travelers.

“We expect occupancy to reach 100 per cent in the month of December, this will be almost 50 per cent higher than last year’s,” said Kangangi.

Damian Davies, the general manager of Turtle Bay Beach Resort in Malindi, said they are actually expecting an increase in foreign and domestic visitors this holiday.

Davies said they have also seen a trend where a large number of local tourists from Nairobi, Kisumu, Nyeri, Nakuru and other major upcountry towns prefer beach destinations.

He said there is need for continuous marketing strategies by the Kenya Tourist Board (KTB) for the country to increase the inflow of holiday makers into Kenya.

Kenya Association of Hotelkeepers and Caterers expressed optimism of recording over 80 per cent hotel bookings during December holidays.

Association CEO Sam Ikwaye told Xinhua that the hotels have already started receiving bookings for both domestic and foreign tourists. Enditem

Source: Xinhua

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