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Unsupportive policies, inadequate facilities hurting Coastal tourism - official

FINANCIAL STANDARD
By Philip Mwakio | July 14th 2015

Several factors other than insecurity have contributed to a drop in visitor numbers to the Coast, industry stakeholders have said. Players in the tourism industry say lack of adequate, modern and diverse entertainment facilities have affected tourists arrivals.

The Kenya Association of Hotelkeepers and Caterers (KAHC) says the challenge has over time affected the few entertainment hot spots that once dotted the Coastal tourism circuit, making them close shop.

KAHC Executive Officer Sam Ikwaye says that apart from homegrown challenges, unsupportive regulatory environment has also made it difficult for such establishments to thrive.

Ikwaye noted that Nakuru and Naivasha towns seem to have stolen the limelight from Mombasa in terms of quality entertainment. He observed that growth and development in any developed tourism destination can be assessed on the quality and diversity of the entertainment on offer.

“If you look back to the 1980’s through late 90’s, all leading hotels had vibrant entertainment facilities not just for guests but for staff who also enjoyed themselves after work in staff quarters,” he said

“Today, most hotels have converted these into conference rooms and left the provision of entertainment services in the hands of external investors.”

Ikwaye said unsupportive environment has seen few hotels survive. He chided government policies which he claimed had remained contradictory. He said it does not make sense to advocate for a 24 hours economy while restricting operating time for entertainment spots across the region.

But not all is lost on what was formerly known as Kenya’s foremost tourists’ attraction circuit. Despite fears over insecurity, there have been new entertainment joints offering great choice. Tapas Cielo under the auspice of Long Island Ltd has continued to attract crowds that have been patronising the premises since it opened shop last year.

A walk into Tapas Cielo Lounge, located at the Nyali Centre reveals much more in entertainment - for private engagements and business luncheons.

“While the entire menu is genuinely wholesome, do not leave the premises without trying what we have - signature dishes from our mastery chefs,” says Sam Rabadia, founder the joint.

In many parts of the world, top end hotels offer cocktail bars and lounges, just like Mombasa’s newest fad.

“At Tapas Cielo, we cater for social and corporate clientele and also take pride in having mouth watering dishes coming from a range of continental cuisine,” Rabadia said, adding that he looks beyond the food to give clients a memorable experience.

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