To My fellow Kenyans allow me to share some insight that many of us would not notice .
A tourist is not only that guest who is choosing to stay at some fancy 5 or 4 star rated hotel or resort. Anyone who leaves their normal aboard and pays for accommodation in another town let alone another country and continent qualifies to be a tourist. Many of us are tourists by default.
We have many International guests who choose to stay at various budget Bed & Breakfast in Nairobi and Mombasa including homes now that we have AirBnB.
I chose to do a quick glance at two Mombasa budget hotels . These are outfits that will cost you less than $25 some even $20. They attract International guests and they are happy to stay there. Majority are students on gap year while others are seeking experiential Tourism and keen to mingle with the locals.
To these budget hotels , please be nice to all these young people staying with you . If they are happy they are the best brand Ambassdors and they’ll in turn encourage their parents to visit Kenya who will happily stay in that 4 or 5 star property.
One more thing they ought to be safe , if anything happened to them they may be a Belgian , British , Australian tourist et al they still remain a subject of those countries . They will NOT be classified as that Australian or Japanese in a budget hotel. Help us avoid unnecessary travel advisories.
To my tourism colleagues it is in our best interests that we embrace and positively influence these budget hotels because majority host future tourists to our 4 or 5 star hotel and resorts besides these young people truly experience the real Kenya . It is in our best interest we mentor these homestays and budget outfits.
To the owners of these small hotels you now all pay catering levy which means you are entitled to free training by Kenya Utalii College during their annual refresher courses that run between April & June. Please be on the look out and get as many of your staff to attend . It makes a huge difference to have skilled staff.
To CS Balala and our Tourism ministry we must help these budget outfits to get more professional and for them to truly understand and appreciate that they are a key cog in the wheels of tourism trade.
It is totally wrong for anyone to say we don’t want ” cheap ” tourists . Well even in leading cities around the world you can still get a B&B for under $25. It is NOT a Kenyan thing besides it’s a free market hence every hotel or resort has its own target market.
My fellow Kenyans when you see that group of young back packers at the SGR or aboard a bus or Matatu to Mombasa or to Western Kenya please note you have just made contact with a future high end tourist and for now a brand Ambassdor for Kenya if treated well.
As always I choose to remain an optimist
Chairman Kenya Tourism Federation