After giving signs that he could give up his multi-million-shilling investment in Malindi, Kenya, Italian billionaire Flavio Briatore seems to have given the Government a second chance to fix the tourism problems that have seen holidaymakers to Malindi dwindle over the years.
The ex-Formula One boss, who is arguably the biggest single investor at the Kenyan Coast, has been contemplating selling one of his exclusive beach hotels - Lion in the Sun - since last August. Now he says the Government should fix the problems before he invests another shilling in Kenya.
Speaking to the media at the Billionaire Beach Resort – which he also owns - the flamboyant investor and adventurer said Malindi had degenerated into a shabby and smelly town that discouraged tourists from visiting it as their preferred destination. He cited poor infrastructure as one of the major reasons tourist numbers had dropped.
The tycoon, who arrived in Malindi on December 27 with several visitors aboard his private plane - according to his annual tradition - also noted that the delay in expanding the Malindi Airport had also derailed tourism growth. Saying the sorry situation had not changed in the last 10 years, Briatore challenged the Kilifi County government to show what it had been doing to attract investors.
After threatening to sell his property and stop investing in Kenya, Briatore said it was sad that he had come back to find nothing has changed.
“Investor confidence should be revived. Roads have potholes and the town is still dirty. In another 10 years, we will all be forced to close down and leave,” he warned.
He however said he was confident that President Uhuru Kenyatta would help to restore Malindi’s dignity.
The Lion in the Sun remained closed for more than six months last year, incurring losses that ran into millions. The resort that has been visited by world-famous personalities such as supermodel Naomi Campbell has been in operation since 2013. It is located next to Billionaire Beach Resort.