CELEBRATION

Thousands flock to two-day Mombasa food festival

The world today celebrates World Tourism Day

In Summary

•A good number of both local and international tourists showed up at the event, which was organized in accordance with Ministry of Health protocols in combating Covid-19.

•Mombasa County Tourism Chief Officer Aisha Abdi said the two-day event has given a platform to over 70 food vendors to showcase their businesses.

Thousands of Mombasa residents and local tourists on Saturday and Sunday thronged the famous Mama Ngina Waterfront Park to celebrate World Tourism Day.

As the world prepares to mark this special day today (Monday), the Mombasa County government said they chose to celebrate it in three days.

The county organized a two-day food festival at the famous Sh460 million Mama Ngina Waterfront Park.

A culmination of the event will be today at PrideInn Beach Resort where 300 beach operators that were trained by the county will graduate.

The Governor Hassan Joho-led administration worked with the Technical University of Mombasa to develop a comprehensive curriculum for the beach operators.

During today’s celebration, the Mombasa government is also expected to unveil the Tourism Revitalization Committee, which will be working towards the recovery of the tourism sector, which is among the sectors hardest hit by Covid-19 pandemic.

Speaking on Saturday during the first-day of the event, Mombasa County Tourism Chief Officer Aisha Abdi said the two-day event has given a platform to over 70 food vendors to showcase their businesses.

“We are happy to note that 90 per cent of the food vendors, who are here today, are young entrepreneurs,” said Abdi.

As expected, she said, a good number of both local and international tourists showed up at the event, which was organised in accordance with Ministry of Health protocols in combating Covid-19.

Mombasa deputy governor William Kingi and ICT Chief Administrative Secretary Nadia Ahmed were among senior government and county government officials, who graced the occasion.

Kingi said the youth have a great potential to drive Kenya’s tourism sector.

“There is a need for the youth to come together and organise themselves to be able to sell and market their products. I have realised there is a gap that needs to be filled on how the local youth can package and sell their products countrywide,” said Kingi.

At the sidelines of the event, the county administered mass vaccination of Covid-19 to the locals who were ready to get the jab.

The Committee, which will be unveiled today, has a membership of both the private and the public sectors.

To help revive tourism in the coastal town of Mombasa, the Committee has proposed among other things, monthly events in the region.

“The committee will be in charge of driving the tourism sector, organise events and come up with plans that will ensure the tourism sector remains vibrant,” a senior official within the county said.

Mombasa county used the festival to boost tourism numbers to the region, mainly domestic tourists where Nairobi is a key market source.

Hotels in the coast region and tourism players capitalised on the event to market properties and destinations, as the industry angles itself for post-Covid recovery.

Exhibitors made a kill according to locals. 

"World Tourism Day Mombasa Food Festival was just amazing! The crowd was massive! I am so grateful for the Mombasa people who came out and enjoyed the night! Most vendors sold out by 10:30," Jammy_eljabry, founder of LifelineMombasa blog, wrote on Twitter.

TOURISM RECOVERY

Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala has projected full recovery of the tourism industry to be in 2024, even as the country starts to record high numbers, compared to last year.

Tourism Research Institute (TRI) data indicates Kenya recorded 305,635 international arrivals between January and June 2021.

This is 262, 213 shy of the total arrival recorded in the full year 2020.

The industry has been sustained mainly by the domestic market which is also facing low disposable income in the wake of job losses and pay cuts over the pandemic period.

With continued vaccination across the globe, travel is expected to pick from next year.

“2022 will be a positive year, 2023 will be a recovery year and full recovery will be 2024,” Balala said during a recent media briefi in Nairobi.

According to the CS, Kenya needs to target countries that have vaccinated their populations mainly the US, UK and China.

'Those are the people who will be moving sooner than others,” Balala said, even as he insisted on vaccinating more Kenyans, especially in the hospitality industry to give confidence to international travelers coming to Kenya.

Mombasa and Diani are Kenya's top beach destinations attracting both domestic and international tourists, mainly from Europe.

They are served by the Moi International Airport, Mombasa, which has in recent times attracted more direct chartered flights from Europe and direct commercial flights.

One of the most recent is Eurowings Discover, which launched a direct route from Germany to Mombasa, in what is likely to push up tourist arrivals during the December peak season.

Eurowings leisure airline is part of the Lufthansa Group, with two weekly flight services from Frankfurt, Germany to Mombasa, and onward flights to the region.

Tourist arrivals from Germany account for Kenya's 7.2 per cent of the international arrival, fourth behind the US 12.9 per cent, Italy 12 per cent and the UK 9.5 per cent. 

Other weekly charter flights to Mombasa include Tui Poland, Bulgaria and Ukraine-operated charter flight, Bees Airline.

Scheduled commercial flights include Turkish Airlines and Qatar Airways which had temporarily suspended flights when international skies closed due to the pandemic.

They were to resume flying the Mombasa route from August and October respectively.

Before the 2007 post-election violence, Moi International Airport Mombasa used to receive over 36 weekly charter flights. It was not until 2018 when the flights started to resume in the country.

In 2019, at least 15 flights resumed weekly flights to Mombasa, but the gains were against disrupted by Covid-19 in 2020.