Hundreds of international tourists visiting Watamu in Kilifi County during the Christmas and New Year festive season have rated the resort town as the best holiday destination in Kenya.
They said its pristine white beaches, hospitality services and proximity to Marine Park, Tsavo East National Park, Arabuko Sokoke Forest, Mida Creek and Gedi Ruins has made it as one the best destinations.
This season, all resorts were fully booked and investors are recording a business boom which is expected to go up to April next year.
Among the resorts that have attracted tourists in Watamu are Seven Islands, Krystall Bay, Temple point, Garoda Beach Resort, Turtle Bay, Medina Palms, Hemingway’s, Lyly Palms, Jacaranda Beach Resort, The One Resort among others.
Mr Roberto Lenzi - the owner of Seven Islands, Papa Remo Beach Club and Krystall Bay Resorts - said the tourism sector has improved this year compared to previous years.
Mr Lenzi has come up with a beach party at Papa Remo to entertain his guests.
“Watamu is the best destination with a 15 kilometre stretch of white pristine beach; its people are kind and every month we shall be having one mega music event at Papa Remo beach,” he said.
He attributed the increased numbers to the political stability, and advised the government to speed up the expansion of Malindi international airport to bring in more tourists from new markets.
“Some of the new tourism international markets such as Bangkok, Thailand, have already begun visiting Watamu due to the easy connection which has been made possible by Ethiopian airlines,” he said.
Other players concurred with Mr Lenzi.
Ms Giulia Morganti, a representative of Sea Club Franco Rosso Tour Company who had booked Seven Islands Resort, said her guests were happy to be in Watamu for their holiday.
“The resort is beautiful; the ocean tides are good; everything is pole pole (slow pace),” she said.
She said for the past three weeks, each week brought in 150 tourists from Italy, adding that the number rose to 200 during Christmas.
Ms Federica Bangna, a tourist from Varese, Italy, said Watamu is amazing and has polite people. He says the ocean with white sand beaches is beautiful.
“I am really happy and I am looking forward to go for a Safari at Tsavo East National Park, I can’t wait to see the wild animals,” she said.
Ms Bangna said during low tides, one is able to walk freely to look for sea corals and star fish, while during high tides one can also enjoy the blue oceanic view and have fun at the sandy beach.
Mr Luciano Bangna said he had travelled a lot with his family in many parts of the world but Watamu had proved to be one of the best destinations.
“The panorama is good in this small village (Watamu). It is fit for families; the beach environment is wonderful,” he added.
Mr Flavio Vanin, also a tourist from Italy, said Watamu is a perfect destination for those who like to party, drink and enjoy the sun.
At Mapango and Lily Palm Resorts, hundreds of tourists were entertained by local acrobats before the fireworks to usher in the New Year were set off.
Mr Ronald Canestrine, the owner of the resort, said they were overwhelmed by the numbers.
“Part of our New Year plan is to market Watamu as the best beach destination in the world. We will set up conference and sporting tourism,” he said.
At Temple Point Resort, where the hotel also received international tourists from 25 countries, a dinner part was organised along the beach with a live band from local artists.
Mr Ian Langer the general-manager of the resort, who spoke a few minutes before the New Year, said 2018 was fantastic in rebranding Watamu as the best beach destination.
He said they intend to keep the hospitality spirit burning by diversifying their products.
He added that the domestic market has been amazing, hotels were fully booked from November to December.