Budget hotels give boost to domestic tourism
By Philip Mwakio
Budget hotels, especially at the Coast, have become popular with local tourists.
During the last festive season, domestic tourists who flocked the Coast patronised the budget hotels, most of which had upgraded their facilities to match those of star-rated tourist facilities.
Their numbers have increased within Mombasa’s Central Business District (CBD) and adjoining areas.
The hotels are now fighting for a slice of the market previously dominated by star rated beach hotels, which have over time relied heavily on overseas guests .
Travel to Mombasa by road is the most common, as it is less expensive compared to air.
‘‘Sandy beaches and clear blue waters are a natural lure for visitors here and they keep coming in droves every holiday season,’’ says Kenya Association of Hotelkeepers and Caterers (Kahc) Coast branch chairman Titus Kangangi.
Kangangi says budget hotels should be supported by Government and other agencies so as to boost domestic tourism.
"They are part of the larger hospitality industry, and should be accorded all the support to prosper in this challenging sector,’’ he says.
One of the hotels, Jambo Group, owned by Ndolo Investments, which operates six units within Mombasa, says it has recorded high numbers of local tourists.
Martin Mulwa, a manager with the Group, says they are already operating at full capacity with bookings coming in mostly from upcountry residents.
"Although we had a number of foreign tourists as regulars who booked with us during the festive period, most of the guests were local,’’ he said.
Among the hotels under Ndolo Investments include Jambo Paradise, Stadium Inn, Coast Safari Hotel,Ganjoni Wananchi Hotel, Magongo and Jambo Village Hotel.
The hotels are located within reach from the town centre.
Another budget hotel within the CBD is Lotus Hotel, popular with foreign tourists and regional guests, besides the local visitors.
Proprietor, Mr Zedekiah Nderu said the use of internet and web marketing has boosted their growth and popularity.
"Majority of our clients book online. This is a real revolution when it comes to doing business the modern way,’’ says Nderu, an Executive member of the Mombasa and Coast Tourist Association (Mcta).
Apart from overseas tourists, the hotel, located along Cathedral Lane is popular with visitors from Tanzania, Uganda and the Great Lakes region.
Other budget hotels within Mombasa island hotels that made booming business in the recent festive season include Royal Castle Hotel, Hotel Saphire, Royal Court,Darajani and Hotel Dorse.
A domestic tourism consultant, Ms Anastancia Wakesho, says last year’s festive season bookings were encouraging, as hotels recorded full capacity.
"Almost all hotels at the Coast, Maasai Mara and areas around Lake Bogoria and the Tsavo were fully booked. A good number of those who took up holiday residence in the resorts were locals,’’ she said.
Wakesho, who is also managing director of Karibu Paradise Safaris says trends in domestic tourism show that the sector is the way to go for Kenyan hospitality industry.
"As announced by Tourism Minister, Najib Balala that 2010 be the year of domestic tourism, we are seeing it becoming a reality for Kenya with locals taking up leisure travel,’’ she said.
Wakesho said that the notion holiday belongs to the super rich should be discarded.
She urged Kenyans to save for holiday like all other essential needs.
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