These are Diani, Watamu, Lamu, Mombasa, and Malindi, which be rebranded and repackaged as follows:
- Diani – East Africa's favourite destination for families and newlyweds
- Watamu – East Africa's leading destination for marine ecology
- Lamu – East Africa's prime destination for tourists wanting to experience culture
- Mombasa – East Africa's leading events destination
- Malindi – East Africa's fully-integrated multi-generational tourist destination and highly profitable for investors
Speaking at a Coast Tourism Symposium in Kwale County, Balala also emphasised the need to market Diani, Watamu, Lamu, Mombasa, and Malindi as the five distinct destinations along Kenya's coast. "We used to have 40 charters to Moi International Airport Mombasa (MIAM). Currently we have 15 charters. We used to have the African Safari Club, Alliance Hotels, African Tours and Hotels. Unfortunately, today none of them exists,” said Balala.
He also said that it was important to upgrade the airstrip at Ukunda Airport – a small airfield near Diani Beach – to become Diani National Airport; and to improve the Mombasa and Malindi airports to make access to beach destinations easier.
According to Balala, Kenya’s international tourist arrivals surpassed two million in 2018, with over $157 billion in tourism receipts, contributing 10% of GDP. Despite the increase in overall arrivals, travellers to beach destinations declined by more than 50%. In 2007, the total visitor arrivals at Moi International Airport, Mombasa, were 276 316, while in 2018 the figures were only 118 113.
Kenya Tourism Board CEO, Betty Radier, said the coastal region aimed to become the preferred long-haul destination for high-spend tourists, with a target of 8.2 million coastal overnight stays by 2030.
As a player in the industry, do you feel that rebranding beach destinations is enough? What would you suggest needs to be done to make Kenya’s beach products fly?