Ferry crisis hurting tourism

By: MATHIAS RINGA

The ferry crisis at the Likoni channel has dealt a blow to tourism in Diani. According to Kenya Association of Tour Operators Coast branch Chairperson Monika Solanki, some tourists in the resort town have missed their flights after being delayed at the crossing for hours.

She said since last Friday, tourists in Diani have been facing difficulties in reaching the Moi International Airport in time for their flights home.

Ms Solanki said the visitors faced delays of between two and three hours.

The official said international tourists heading to Diani for holidays are being frustrated by the frequent delays at the channel.

“After the just concluded Magical Kenya Travel Expo, many tourists were interested in going to Diani for leisure,” she Ms Solanki.

“Sadly, the ferry crisis is making both local and international visitors avoid travelling to the South Coast due to the delay nightmare,” she said.

Ms Solanki said the delays at the channel have also adversely affected safaris to Shimba Hills Game Reserve.

She said wildlife enthusiasts heading for game drives lose precious hours of watching animals after being held up at the crossing for hours.

ECONOMY AFFECTED

Kenya Association of Hotelkeepers and Caterers Coast Chief Executive Officer Sam Ikwaye said the transport crisis at Likoni is a setback to Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions (Mice) tourism in Diani.

He said the delays are slowing down both the government’s and the private sector’s efforts to revive the tourism industry in the South Coast.

“The government spent a lot of money in bringing international tour operators and travel agents to Diani during the recent travel show,” he said.

Mr Ikwaye said conference organisers are avoiding Diani because of transport woes at the Likoni crossing.

Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry Mombasa Chief Executive officer James Kitavi said the ferry crisis had affected economic activities in the South Coast.

When reached for comment, the ferry boss, Mr Musa Hassan Musa said the ferries are worn out.