NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 13 – Hemingways Collection is set to invest Sh800 million in upgrading its Watamu resort to a world class one.
The firms’ Chairman Richard Evans says the upgrade comes due to a need of quality resorts in Watamu.
Evans signed a contract with Mujji Devraj Contractors that will see the resort that has 76 rooms downsized to 39 rooms with 15 high class apartments.
“The Coast has been neglected for a while following the downward trend performance owing to insecurity concerns since the Al Shabaab attacks, Kenya has been losing to Zanzibar hence there is need for high end hotels at the Coast,” Evans said.
Tourism is a key forex earner for Kenya but terrorism attacks have seen visitor arrivals drop as key markets issued travel advisories.
The slump has seen some hotels close shop with over 30,000 people losing their jobs.
The United States, United Kingdom, Australia and Germany have since lifted their travel warnings on key Coastal holiday towns due to improved security, raising hopes for sector revival.
“There is a growing luxury market in the country and a growing business travel sector, we are planning to tap in to this niche market,” Evans added.
The firm in 2013 opened a luxury hotel in Nairobi’s Karen suburb, a 45 suite hotel.
The Nairobi property is the third in the Hemingways collection that includes Watamu and Ol Seki in the Maasai Mara.
“We have been successful in the Nairobi business which we started in 2013, we are sure that the Watamu business will work well,” he stated.
Meanwhile the Malindi Watamu Tourism Association is set to sign a deal with Kenya Airways to market the Kenyan Coast to visitors from landlocked African countries.
According to Roberto Marini, the association’s chairperson, the Memorandum of Understanding will be signed in the next 10 days in a bid to bring Watamu back to its glory.
“We have lost about 70 percent of our business to Zanzibar; we want to ride on the airline’s flights networks which will include lower fares,” Marini told Capital FM Business.
Visitors arriving through Moi International Airport in Mombasa grew by 9.8 percent to 31,810 in the first four months of the year up from 28,967 in the same period last year.