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Malindi tourism stakeholders express high hopes in sector recovery

Vaco da Gama pillar
The Vasco da Gama pillar in Malindi, Kenya’s coast. Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

After nearly two years of Covid-19-related doldrums in the tourism sector, stakeholders in Malindi have said they are ready for better days starting in July.

They are keeping Malindi town and the beaches clean through their monthly cleanup campaigns, hoping to welcome more local and international visitors.

The cleanups are organised by the Progressive Welfare Association of Malindi (PWAM).

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Hoteliers are also working to ensure that they comply with health protocols meant to contain the spread of the respiratory disease, including vaccinating all their workers.

Speaking in Malindi during this month’s cleanup work, veteran hotelier and PWAM official Philip Chai said international charter flights are expected in Mombasa starting in July, raising their hopes of revitalising tourism.

“We are ready to welcome the resurrection of tourism activities in Malindi. We welcome all visitors to holiday with us and enjoy the calmness that Malindi has. We have maintained clean beaches, a clean town and a clean environment,” he said.

Food handlers and staff welcoming guests will be vaccinated, he said.

Lufthansa will begin to fly to Kenya in July while KLM will follow in October with two flights in a week, he said.

Flights to Mombasa by Ethiopian Airlines, Turkish Airlines and others are also scheduled.

Mr Chai appealed to domestic tourists to visit the resort town.

Malindi, though an international tourism destination, has struggled to maintain a clean environment, said Kilifi County Beach Operators chairperson Justin Kitsao, who led other beach operators in the cleaning event.

Cleaner surroundings have encouraged turtles to return to the beaches, a development that Mr Kitsao said is a big boost to their business as turtles are a major attraction.

He was optimistic that their businesses will resume as a majority of residents who depend on tourism for their livelihoods were severely affected by the collapse of the sector due to the pandemic.

Baharini Women Group Malindi chairperson Consolata Ogutu said a majority of women are breadwinners in their families and tough economic times mean that they have to hustle more and find alternative ways of providing for their children.

She urged the government to support beach operators with incentives to start their businesses afresh.

Pili Kadzo, from the Malindi Baharini women beach operators, said members will comply with Covid-19 health protocols.

“Everybody is wearing masks, we are washing hands and also observing social distance to ensure that we stop the spread of coronavirus and business resumes to normal,” she said.

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