Hoteliers at the resort town of Malindi in Kilifi County are smiling all the way to the bank following the ongoing Arid and Semi-Arid Conference (ASAL) attended by over 1,000 delegates.
Industry stakeholders urged the government to secure more such meetings to prop the economy of the area that is hard-hit by a downturn in tourism.
Le Chateau B&B director, Janet Nderitu, said her 16- roomed guest house near Ocean Beach Resort where the conference is ongoing has been fully booked.
“The conference has awoken tourism in Malindi to greater magnitude since such conferences usually happen in Nairobi and Mombasa,” she said.
Recently, Mr Alexander Zissimatos, the Tropical Village, Malindi Dream Garden and Dream of Africa general manager said he has recorded 70 per cent bed occupancy.
During the conference opening ceremony graced by Deputy President William Ruto, Devolution Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa said 1,000 delegates attended the meeting, surpassing the 700 delegates they were expecting for the event.
Some of the delegates who include governors and other top government officials had to stay in hotels at Watamu and Kilifi which is about 50 kilometres away from Malindi since most hotels were fully occupied.
Malindi, also referred to as “little Sicily” among Italian tourists, had been enjoying a tourism boon until the upsurge of terrorist attacks in 2000 that forced most hotels to close down.
But some Italian investors said a difficult economic situation in their home country also contributed to the upsurge of tourists at the resort town.