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Mombasa still tops holiday list

NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 31 – Mombasa remains the favoured destination for domestic tourists during the Easter season, according to a spot check by Capital Business.

During the just concluded 2009 Holiday Expo – an exhibition organised by the Go-Places magazine and attended by major industry players –  it was indicated that despite efforts by various chains of hotels to aggressively market other destinations for the long Easter weekend, most holiday makers still wanted to spend this vacation at the coast.

“Sarova Whitesands was fully booked two weeks before we came to the Expo, and especially by repeat travellers,” Sarova Client Service representative Judy Kahuki said.

The Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) last year embarked on an awareness campaign to educate Kenyans on better booking habits, but going by what was witnessed at the expo, little seems to have changed.

“While rooms in Mombasa could be going for as high as Sh13,000 per person most people want to go there, yet we are offering as little as Sh10,000 for the Mara,” Ms Kahuki stated.

She however noted that compared to 2007 and 2008 more people were opting to venture inland.
This year’s fair saw huge traffic on the first and second day of the exhibition, (Wednesday and Thursday) with most bookings being made on Saturday.

“Sunday was slow but we experienced a last minute rush just before noon, so the exhibition closing had to be extended to 1 pm,” Account Manager at Heritage Hotels Nanana Tuyah said.

Ms Tuyah noted that despite the chain reducing rates by 20 percent for their safari destinations, interest in the product was still low.

“We have offered big discounts and even come up with attractive road packages but locals are still keener on the beach products and anything around it,” she expressed.

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Ms Tuyah said KTB ought to come up with more promotional products on the safari, to draw more Kenyans to sample it.

Meanwhile, Tourism Minister Najib Balala has called on the private sector to be more innovative and trendy for the sector to thrive.

Mr Balala noted that the country could no longer afford to bank on marketing strategies that were invented 30 years ago due to increased competition.

The Tourism Minister wants the sector to tap more into the cultural tourism platform, which he observed is growing fastest internationally.

“Last year the global tourism product experienced a 37 percent growth, which means if we do tap on our cultural product, which is pretty diverse, we can make good headway,” Mr Balala said.

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