DIANI, Kenya, Dec 23—As the festive season gathers steam, local and foreign holidaymakers are streaming to the Kenyan coast for merrymaking during Christmas and New Year festivities.
One of the preferred destinations for tourists is Diani in the South Coast where hotels are fully booked through to early next year—a confidence boost for the tourism industry that has suffered numerous challenges blamed on two presidential elections held in the country in August and October.
“I love Diani because the beaches are crisp white. It is the best place to be and the hotels there are amazing like Diani Reef,” Harry, a Briton who has visited Kenya for three consecutive years for holiday, with his wife and kids, said.
His wife Charlotte said she loves Diani because “it offers the best destination for holiday. We will still come back to Kenya and stay in Diani.
But it is not just local and foreign tourists who are falling in love with Diani, as confirmed recently by the Council of Governors (COG) which held an induction conference for governors at the Diani Reef Beach Resort and Spa.
The conference, bringing together all the 47 governors and their deputies, was graced by President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto.
“Hosting such local workshops has boosted conference tourism in the country,” said Deepak Kamani, the Chairman of Diani Reef Beach Resort and Spa.
And with assurance from the government to improve the road network in Kwale from Mombasa, hotels in Diani are poised to be on the competitive edge with those in the north as explained by a top state official involved in organizing the governors conference.
“We chose Diani Reef because it is spacious and has the capacity to host as many guests as possible while maintaining high standards required for such a gathering because we had the Head of State in mind,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he had no express authority to discuss with the media on considerations put in place when organizing presidential events.
When asked about their capacity to successfully hold such huge conferences, Bobby Kamani, the Managing Director of Zuri Group, that owns Diani Reef Resort and Spa said “Our conference facility is an ultra-modern and state of the art that enables businesses and governments to host international and local conferences without worrying about capacity. We can host up to 1000 people at the same time with different break out sessions at the same time thus making us the one of the largest in the Coast Region.”
In March this year, Diani beach was voted the seventh best beach in Africa in 2017 by an American travel website, TripAdvisor.
The popular white sand beach in the South Coast was ranked seventh overall in the list of top 25 best beaches in Africa.
”We have hosted international artist and movie stars including Kelly Rowland and Sharon Stone in the past. This was in their private capacity and that is why we believe in giving the best 5-star service and our beaches are the best in the world,” Bobby said, and revealed that the hotel is 100 percent fully booked through to next year.
From Diani in the South Coast, Mombasa in the north, Malindi and across other tourism destinations in the country’s National Parks, the future of Kenya’s tourism sector is bright due to the aggressive marketing campaign put up by Brand Kenya and the Kenya Tourism Board (KTB).
“Kenya sits at a strategic geographical location in Africa making it easier for international flights to access it thus promoting international tourism. At the same time, this country enjoys a rich culture and diversity that helps promote cultural tourism,” Bobby said, “Our Country like our counterparts have managed to promote their cultural diversity to help them cash in tourism.”
With recent approval granted to Kenya Airways for direct flights to the United States, Kenya’s tourism is set to gain even further.
“It is also important that we continue having more direct flights from international destinations with affordable airfares,” Bobby said, “We believe that will be a great boost to Kenya’s tourism. As we speak, a Jetways and Silverstone has introduced direct flights to Diani increasing traffic to South Coast.”
Tourism industry players are excited that the completion of Dongo-Kundu Bypass in Q1 of 2018 will be an enormous enabler to Tourism opportunities at the South Coast.
“This will change significantly and both international and domestic tourists will be able to access South Coast within 15-20 minutes from the Moi International Airport,” Bobby said.
Tourism at the South Coast has suffered for the longest time because of the Ferry terminus in Likoni due to lack of capacity to transport many tourists causing logistics mayhem.
“We are also calling on the government to expedite the expansion of the Ukunda Airport to allow bigger aeroplanes land in South Coast and increase traffic to our facilities,” he said.