Why failure remains Hersi’s worst fear
Posted Thursday, June 21 2012 at 19:20
Mohamed Hersi already has a bee buzzing in his bonnet early in the morning when I walk into his office at Whitesands Hotel in Mombasa. What has ticked him off? The day’s newspaper headline: “Insecurity killing tourism in the Coast.”
“What bombs and kidnappings are these?
This information is false and sensational!” growls Mohammed, who is also the chairman of Kenya Association of Hotel Keepers and Caterers. He then excuses himself, gets on twitter and tweets about it: “Terrorism is not big news in the UK, it’s pricing.”
Mohamed speaks about management, tourism and life in general with an unbridled passion and with a refreshing disregard to political correctness.
Based on recent news articles Mombasa will have completely submerged in 50 years due to global warming and now some two significant foreign tour operators have discontinued chartered flights from France and Italy. You must be having sleepless nights.
Look, those are cheap clients (in reference to the operators).
These are people asking for very low rates, rates that countries trying to attract back tourist - like Egypt and Libya - after political unrest are offering. Unfortunately, we can’t just lower our rates to that level to compete. Also the reduced number of tourist from the European market is not because of insecurity here, it’s because of the European economic crunch!
I get the feeling that you feel that tourism isn’t getting enough support.
That’s correct. The government talks about tourism being a pillar of our economy, yes, but what are they doing for it? Nobody is funding it, nobody considers it a priority. And that’s a fact!
How do you unwind?
The hotel business is very demanding; early mornings and late nights are a norm. I start my day at the mosque at 5 am; this gives me a three-hour head start.
I try to sleep early enough, but that’s almost impossible when you run a hotel. I don’t drink. I don’t smoke. I don’t chew miraa. My idea of fun is going home, getting into my kikoi and sipping some spiced black tea while I watch football or read a book. I’m a ferocious reader. I read anything that is in English. If you don’t read, you are not any better than someone who doesn’t know how to read.
What really gets you fired up?
I’m keen on excellence. I detest people who aren’t keen on delivering excellence. I believe in Robin Sharma’s mantra: Passion is when you perform a task to a level of excellence when no one is watching. At the moment, I love my country but I’m not proud of it. It has been abused by our leaders.
What are you reading now?