The Kenya Association of Hotelkeepers and Caterers (KAHC) has asked coastal counties of Mombasa, Kwale, Kilifi and Lamu to introduce by-laws to protect the beaches.
KAHC coast branch executive, Sam Ikwaye said the devolved units should tame the beach boys, who are a common sight and a nuisance along the sandy coastline.
He added; “Many of our foreign tourists have expressed their displeasure over harassment by the beach boys and most have indicated to us they do not want to come back here and would prefer other beach destinations”.
He said hoteliers have often complained over the beach boys dominance of the public beaches, where they allegedly perpetuate crime, including abduction of foreign guests.
The hoteliers’ representative also decried lack of necessary infrastructure at the public beaches including bathrooms, toilets, beach umbrellas, car parking and garbage bins, among other social amenities.
Ikwaye said the beaches fronting the Indian Ocean, from Kiunga in Lamu to Vanga in Kwale are one of Kenya’s most valuable natural resources, where tourists come to relax, enjoy besides boating, fishing, diving and other recreational activities.
He was speaking on Monday at a consultation forum at Travelers Beach Hotel in Mombasa to re-evaluate Kwale county beaches and what by-laws were required to control the situation.
The county consultation process brought together Members of the County Assembly (MCAs), tour operators, hoteliers and other stakeholders to give opinion and submissions on beach activities in need of regulations.
Ikwaye emphasized that the management responsibility of coastal beaches, that over the years have been a major tourism boost, was a devolved function and urged the counties to introduce candid by-laws to protect their resources.
Meanwhile, hoteliers and investors in the hotel industry have been advised to build up hotels of international standards to attract tourists.
Tourism Fund Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Joseph Cherutoi said hotel management in Migori County should benchmark with other established hotels to up their ratings.
He regretted that there was no hotel in Migori which has been star-rated because of their low standards, adding that enabling the hotels meet international standards will attract tourists resulting in foreign exchange earnings.
“No hotel has been Star rated in this County because they are of low standards and that is why I advise investors and hoteliers in this county to benchmark with other hoteliers in the neighbouring counties like Kisii and Kisumu which have attained star ratings” he said.
Cherutoi however challenged hotel owners to conform with profiling and registration of their hotels, a strategy which will enable the Tourist Fund to train their employees to international standards.
The CEO told participants attending a workshop on Profiling and Registration of Hotels in Migori, Monday that the organization was committed to developing sustainable tourism sites in all the 47 counties by enabling their facilities conform to the international standards.
He further advised the Migori County Government to partner with the Tourism Board and parastatals within the tourism sector to market the tourist attraction sites to attract not only foreigners but also domestic tourists.
This comes barely a month after the government announced that billions of shillings have been set aside for the renovation of major historic and archaeological sites countrywide.
Members of the business community in the area welcomed the idea to profile and register their hotels, confirming that, indeed, the standards of the hotels were wanting.