Shopping malls are emerging as the biggest winners in the changing tastes of tourists at the Coast.
Visitors to Mombasa have now changed their eating habits and prefer wining and dining outside hotel establishments.
Over the past three years, shopping malls have become the in-thing, with a number of them operational while others are under construction.
Recently, City Mall, which is adjacent to Nakumatt Nyali, also built on the same model, opened its doors to the public, ushering in a new experience for tourists and shoppers in Mombasa.
Mombasa and Coast Tourist Association (MCTA) chairman Mohammed Hersi said the malls will revolutionise the way hotel managers handle their guests.
“The facilities present a major shift that we have to embrace. Tourists no longer prefer to take all their meals in hotels, as was the tradition in the past.
“They now want to venture and eat out. In future, guests will only stay in hotels for bed and breakfast,” he said.
Mr Hersi, who is also the general manager at the Whitesands Beach Resort, said malls have provided easy access to crucial services such as banks, shops, and eating places that are different from the hotel environment since guests get an opportunity to socialise with local residents.
Due to congestion in Mombasa town, businesses are moving away from the central business district to the outskirts, with Nyali estate as the preferred destination where, besides building apartments, investors in real estate have constructed office blocks and shopping malls, making it the fastest developing commercial area in the region.
According to property developers, the trend will continue as the market responds to consumer needs spawned by the need to move out of Mombasa Island and desire for business premises in a conducive environment.
“There is high demand for office space out of Mombasa and right now, several developers have planned to invest in massive projects in Nyali,” said Mr Mwenda Thuranira, chairman of the Kenya Property Developers Association (KPDA) Mombasa chapter.
“The environment in the area is also conducive to developments targeting high-end and middle class consumers,” he said.
City Mall managing agent Davis Kithikii said the centre’s location also gives it a competitive edge in tapping the new market that is bound to emerge from the creation of the new Lamu Port and Lamu Southern Sudan-Ethiopia Transport Corridor (LAPSSET).
Some of the companies that have booked space at the centre include Naivas Supermarkets (this is its first branch in Mombasa), Java House, Planet Yoghurt, Aga Khan Health Services, and nine banks besides other businesses.
Coast Regional Business Agenda chairman Titus Kangangi said the modern malls offer the residents and tourists a decent social place for families and business people.
“The facilities have also created an option for people to have a different experience and added value to tourism.
At the moment, tourists can visit malls and buy souvenirs for themselves and friends abroad,” said Mr Kangangi, also the Platinum Group of hotels’ managing director.
He said the experience tourists get at the facilities is far from the traditional one where hoteliers used to transfer visitors for excursion.
“With the modern experience, tourists enjoy something closer to home,” he added.