Airbnb, a leading American online company that markets private homestays for tourism experiences, has listed the resort town of Malindi in Kilifi County among the top 20 best destinations to visit next year.
On October 20, this year, Airbnb published 20 trending destinations for 2020 based on year-over-year growth in bookings, saying the list is full of surprises and hidden gems.
The report describes Malindi which is the only African resort tom in the list, as a bustling coastal village endowed with natural beauty, habited by people from the African, Arab and European cultural background.
“Known for its Swahili architecture, fresh-caught seafood, and natural wonders like the Marafa Depression – also known as Hell’s Kitchen — this pristine beach town is much more than a laid-back sunny retreat,” it states.
Others listed in the 20 best destinations are Spain’s Bilbao, Buriram in Thailand, Sunbury and Victoria in Australia, Romania, Xi’an in China, Eugene Luxembourg Guadalajara, Mexico and OR in the United States.
Also in the list is Vanuatu, Cali in Colombia, Cape Canaveral in US, Aberdeen in Scotland, Courtenay in Canada, Ubatuba in Brazil, Les Contamines-Montjoie in France, Tokyo in Japan while Maastricht in Netherlands is at position 20.
Malindi, which administratively extends to Watamu, is loved by Italian settlers and tourists who refer to the resort as little Italy and has over the years attracted several Italian investors.
A spot check by the Nation on several private homes, villas and hotels in Malindi, established that most hotels are fully booked ahead of the Christmas and New Year festive season.
Ms Maureen Awuor, the Kenya Hotel Keepers and Caterers Association (KHCA) north coast region chairperson, who is also the Ocean Beach Resort chairperson, said the resort town has about 20 hotels which have recorded high bed capacity ahead of Christmas and New Year festivities.
“Tourism has performed better than previous years since 80 per cent of the hotels are fully booked ahead of the festivity,” she told the Nation in an interview.
Mr Alexander Zissimatos, the general manager of Sandies Tropical beach resort, Malindi Dream Garden, Diamond Dream of Africa said most of the tourists occupying the resorts are locals.
“Domestic tourism has really boosted this industry. We also introduced new packages and innovations such as ultra-modern conference facilities to attract more tourists visiting the resort town,” he said.
Mr Pasquale Tirito, the chairman of Jacaranda Beach Resort in Watamu, said the season has picked well and the number of tourists has increased compared to previous years.
He called on the national government to speed up the expansion of Malindi International Airport to attract more tourists and investors to the resort town.
Mr Tirito said the availability of connection flight from Italy to Kenya has made it easier for tourists to travel using different airlines.