Curio dealers in Malindi want leading hotels to be barred from selling artefacts.
Malindi Curio Sellers Association chairman Sabastian Muasya lamented that hotels had kicked many dealers out of business as they could not compete with the caterers.
“Tourists end up buying curios in hotels, locking out those dealers with premises at the Malindi tourist market,” he said.
The chairman explained that big hotels were a threat to the start-ups, many of them yet to finish paying bank loans.
Several of them are now unable to repay the loans, according to the chairman.
Mr Muasya said 70 per cent of tourists visiting Malindi bought souvenirs from curios in hotels rather than going to the tourist market.
A spot check at the market showed that several of the shops had closed, with a large number of traders saying that they survived on proceeds from previous sales.
“We have been open since morning and no tourist has come to buy the artefacts on sale here,” said one of the curio dealers.
Mr Muasya said that only 100 of the 400 members of the association were currently in operation, adding that some would open their shops next month when tourist numbers pick up.
Mr Titus Kangangi the former chairman of the Kenya Association of Hotelkeepers and Caterers said that the on-going trend of hotels selling curios in the Coast region denied Kenyans the opportunity to get a slice of the business.
“The sector is big enough for the established curio dealers and start-ups. But hotels should focus on their business of catering and accommodation,” he said.