Italian travel agencies have rated Watamu as the best destination for their clients because of its cool environment, fine beaches, and privacy compared to Malindi.
Antoniella Montecalvo a travel agent for over 20 years who was in the group said Malindi has lost to Watamu as the preferred destination for Italian clients.
“Watamu is the best place for Italian tourists, it has clear beaches, best resorts most known in Kenya , one of the best destinations for tourists from Italy, the area has good weather, beaches ,’’ she said.
Montecalvo was in a group of 15 travel operators who were on their first marketing tour of the Coastal line said Watamu has better resorts to cater for the tastes of their clients.
Montecalvo ranked a Safari to Tsavo as the most amazing as it gave them a wonderful view of the wildlife.
Currently Watamu has more hotels which adds to it's popularity with tourists compared to the fading Malindi.
Montecalvo said Watamu has been neglected by the government as seen in the poor roads.
She said travel agents in Italy and still rate Kenya highly as a tourism destination.
She said the government, however, needs to improve security to keep tourists coming. She said tourists security assurances especially after the Westgate Mall terrorist attack and the continuous terror threats
Irena Andriano, a travel agent from South Italy said she has difficulties getting confirmation from her clients because of the safety concerns in Kenya.
She said the tour was a good experience to explore Kenya as most people from her area do not ask much about traveling the country and normally preferred Egypt.
Montecalvo said tourists' biggest nightmare is the poor roads.
“The problems in Watamu are the roads from the airport to Watamu resorts are not comfortable, it takes so much time for tourists to reach the hotels,’’ she said.
She said the government should regulate the operations of beach traders in order to reduce tourist harassment.
So far they said December bookings were good and expect good number of tourists during the Christmas and New Year festive.
Pasqualle Tirito the chairman of Jacaranda Hotels said Italian travel agencies were affected by the Westgate attacks.
He said the government should streamline security matters and come up with a system of operations for beach operators.
“In Mombasa the government succeeded in setting up area of operations for beach operators the same can still be done here.
He said Bookings for December records were good and expect work with clients from Italy, Russia Germans and other European countries.
Tirito stressed that there was need for an international airport in Malindi to enable international flights land directly.
Malindi he said also required a thorough clean up as it was dirty and smelly.