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Hotel taps into faith tourism market

By | December 7th 2009

By Phillip Mwakio

A tourist hotel in the South Coast is breaking new barriers by tapping religious tourism, as it diversifies in a bid to maintain steady business in the wake of the freefall the Kenyan hospitality industry suffered, following the post poll chaos last year, and the global recession.

The Maweni & Capricho Beach Cottages, off Tiwi beach, is reaping from a unique niche market which is yet to be fully explored in Kenya.

Religious tourism is a form of tourism where people of one faith travel individually or in groups for pilgrimage or leisure (fellowship) purposes.

The Maweni & Capricho Beach Cottages grounds. The hotel is a hotspot for religious tourists.  

In an interview with The Standard, General Manager, George Swanya says have been recorded a mixed flow on visitors who include families, members of the diplomatic corps, missionaries and foreign navies.

"The whole of last year and most of this year has been disappointing for the hospitality industry, with international visitor arrivals remaining low, compared to 2007 when hotels were teeming with guests," Swanya said.

He adds that hotels have been forced to adopt unique ways to stay afloat.

Their best supporting clients have been the Scripture Mission, which brings in tourists from the Scandinavian region.

The Maweni & Capricho Beach Cottages has 36 cottages and 30 hotel suites, ranging from one bedroomed units to spacious four bedroom cottages. Some of the units face the sea, while others are built amidst attractive gardens of exotic flowering trees and shrubs.

Swanya says that owing to their location in a quiet, private beach, they also attract a large number of missionary tourists from Tanzania, Malawi and the Great Lakes region.

The General Manager, George Swanya. Photo: Mbugua Kibera/Standard

The World Tourism Organisation estimates that between 300-330 million pilgrims visit world key religious sites or take leisure holiday. In North America, religious tourism is a $10 billion industry.

"With the right incentives, this is a market we cannot ignore," Swanya said.

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