Hotel charges in Mombasa and Diani have doubled following a sharp rise in domestic tourists headed to the coast for the Christmas holiday season, lifting hoteliers’ fortunes.
Most hotels at the coast have recorded full bookings in the period after December 20.
Kenya Tourism Federation chairman Mohamed Hersi said rates rise by between 40 and 50 per cent during the peak festive season. “From December 20 to January 3, 2018, holiday rates jump by 50 per cent due to large numbers of holidaymakers who want to celebrate Christmas and New Year in a sun, sand and sea atmosphere,” he said.
Mr Hersi, who is also the Sun Africa Hotels chief executive, said hotels experienced low business during the long electioneering period.
The cost of half-board — bed, dinner and breakfast —for festive season bookings has increased from between Sh7,500 and Sh20,000 to Sh15,000 and Sh40,000, according to Mr Hersi. The palm-fringed beaches of Mombasa, Kilifi, Watamu and Diani rely on tourist dollars for sustenance and growth.
The visitors are welcome news for hoteliers who had been forced to cut jobs, slash pay and even close shop following the crippling effects of travel alerts issued in 2014 after a spate of terrorist attacks.
Tourism earnings increased to Sh99.7 billion last year on arrivals of 1.39 million visitors, up from Sh84.6 million the previous year.
Besides hotels, tourists support auxiliary sectors like handicraft, taxis, fishermen and farmers.
In the South Coast, Diani Reef Beach Resort managing director Bobby Kamani said the hotel was packed to capacity due to a combination of local and international guests.
“I am glad that many Kenyan tourists have flocked to this destination for leisure and Jamhuri celebrations,” he said.