Tourism boost as Kenya beach named among world’s best

Thursday February 19 2015

A view of Diani Beach on Kenya's Coast. The number of tourists arriving through the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) in Nairobi fell by almost half in January. PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

A view of Diani Beach on Kenya's Coast. Seen against the importance of the industry to the Kenyan economy, the Sh140 million put aside by the Kenya Tourism Board for promotion might be a paltry sum. PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By MATHIAS RINGA
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Diani Beach in Kwale County has yet again put Kenya on the world map after being voted as among the top 25 beaches in the world in 2015 by TripAdvisor.

In the latest Travellers’ Choice Awards (Best of 2015), TripAdvisor ranked Diani Beach the 22nd best beach in the world.

Diani Beach was also voted third among the top 25 beaches in Africa while Watamu Beach in Kilifi County took 14th position on the continent.

Baia do Sancho of Brazil was voted the best beach in the world among the top 25 in the world. Anse Lazio of Seychelles was ranked sixth overall, Camp’s Bay Beach in South Africa 11th and Sharm El Luli in Egypt in position 19.

On the African continent, Anse Lazio of Seychelles topped the list of top 25 beaches in Africa, Camp’s Bay Beach of South Africa took second position, Diani Beach was ranked third and Watamu Beach 14th overall.

On the TripAdvisor website, global travel reviewers termed Diani Beach: “nice place, excellent weather, very good.”

In the hotels category, Medina Palms, Watamu, in Kilifi County was the only Kenyan hotel that was voted as among the top 25 hotels in Africa.

Medina Palms was ranked 19th in the top 25 hotels, with travel reviewers terming it “a most wonderful experience not to be missed and gorgeous property in beautiful Watamu”.

TripAdvisor awarded the beaches and hotels from across the world based on choices made by global travellers.

TripAdvisor is an American travel website providing reviews of travel-related content and also includes interactive travel forums.

GLOBAL RECOGNITION

Last year, Diani Beach was voted as Africa’s leading beach destination by the World Travel Awards.

Yesterday, Coast leaders and tourism players expressed their appreciation over the global recognition of the two local beaches and a hotel by TripAdvisor.

Kwale Governor Salim Mvurya told the Nation that he was delighted by the recognition of Diani Beach, saying it would boost tourism in the South Coast.

“We are glad that Diani Beach has yet again made us proud on the global arena barely a year after the World Travel Awards voted it the best beach destination in Africa,” he said.

The governor added that his county, with support from tourism investors, would continue to make Diani a better holiday resort in an effort to attract more local and international tourists.

He called on the United Kingdom, the US, France and Australia to lift the travel advisories, saying security had significantly improved across the country.

Mr Mvurya said the travel bans had dealt a blow to the tourism sector in the region, rendering thousands of hotel workers jobless.

“It should be noted that Diani residents depend solely on tourism. The resort town’s economy is on its knees owing to lack of international holidaymakers,” he said.

“Diani and other coastal tourist towns are very safe. It is our hope that the Western countries will review the travel bans so that tourists can come and have fun on our beaches,” he added.

Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi was also impressed by the Watamu Beach and Medina Palms’ global recognition, saying his county would take advantage of the accolades to help revive the sector.

The governor assured that the county would improve other beaches, including Malindi Beach, Kilifi Beach, Kikambala Beach and Mambrui Beach to woo more visitors to the region.

UPGRADE HOTELS

Mr Kingi called on tourism investors to take a leaf from Medina Palms by refurbishing their hotels to international standards.

“The major challenge we face in Kilifi County is that most of the hotels are old while our conference facilities are small,” he said.

“We urge investors to upgrade their hotels so that we can attract high-end tourists while at the same time they need to build large conference facilities,” he added.

Kenya Association of Hotelkeepers and Caterers Coast branch Executive Officer Sam Ikwaye called on the county chiefs to address the challenges of harassment of tourists on the beaches so that more beaches could get global recognition.