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Tourism sector players demand action after attack at Pinewood Beach Resort

Business
 Julius Owino,  Kenya Coast Tourism Association CEO addressing media while in the company of other stakeholders. [Courtesy]

Tourism stakeholders have joined the growing calls for the arrest and prosecution of suspects who invaded and staff at Pinewood Beach Resort in Diani, Kwale County.

The Stakeholders drawn from the coastal region said more than a week after the incident happened, none of the suspects captured in the hotels' CCTV cameras have been arraigned in court, for a brutal daylight attack that left many injured, and property destroyed.

In a show of solidarity, the stakeholders under the auspices of Kenya Coast Tourist Association on Wednesday termed the incident linked to an attempted takeover of the hotel as primitive and barbaric.

Addressing journalists during a press conference at the hotel premises, the Association Chief Executive Officer Julius Owino said the tourism sector is fragile and must be treated with a lot of caution.

“This is the third time the staff of this hotel have been attacked in broad daylight. We are cognizant of commercial disputes between the parties however we cannot allow hooliganism and lawlessness to be a way of solving commercial disputes in this industry,” said Mr Owino.

According to him, such actions dent the very destination the sector has heavily invested in to showcase and market.

Mr Owino said the sector is yet to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic that almost crippled it, due to strict movement restrictions imposed across the world.

He said the association has called on Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki to intervene so that the suspects and those behind the attack are apprehended and charged in court.

“While we appreciate the tourist police for their response during the attack, we wish to also convey our disappointment with the local security apparatus. We expected the local security to have intelligence of an impending attack or even respond but unfortunately, not even local senior security leadership nor local police responded in time when the staff and guest were attacked and clobbered, no arrest has been made since then,” he said.

Similar calls for justice were made by locals living around the hotel- which has been a source of living for many.

“We can’t afford to lose all these jobs. We want the government to ensure the incidents are arrested,” one of the residents said.

An intended takeover of the hotel by the Kenya Commercial Bank was stopped through a court order, pending a hearing and determination of a suit challenging the move.

Mombasa High Court set January 9 as the mention date for the case.

Tourism Cabinet Secretary Dr Alfred Mutua has since condemned the incident and called for stern action against the perpetrators.

Mr Owino said some staff at the facility are still nursing injuries with the majority traumatised.

“Majority of these staff are locals here and attacking them is an attack on the local community and the livelihoods,” Owino said.

During the attack, the hotel was hosting 60 tourists from the United Kingdom.

“We are a county governed by law, we must therefore not allow such anarchy to prevail, worse is within the delicate hospitality sector,” He said.

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