Not even hard economic times could dim Kenyans Xmas spirit
Jasmine Atieno and Roy Lumbe
Thousands of local and foreign visitors swamped Mombasa to celebrate Christmas and New Year.
From beaches, entertainment joints, historical sites and museums, the city has literally been turned into a 24-hour party den despite the harsh economic times witnessed in the country.
For the last three days, Jomo Kenyatta, Nyali and Shelly public beaches are bursting in number of revellers, spending hours swimming and basking in the sun. Fort Jesus Museum has also come alive with visitors keen to learn its history.
Nightclubs and hotel owners spot beaming faces, thanks to booming business with bed occupancy hitting 100 per cent.
Traveler’s Beach Hotel sales and marketing manager Wafula Waswa said the hotel has organised events for the festivities for its clients.
“So, we are hoping to receive even more visitors to sample what we have put together for the holidays,” said Wafula.
Antony Gachine, a local tourist from Nairobi, said he is confident with security measures taken by government to ensure safety of visitors.
Mombasa and other coastal towns are usually the preferred holiday destinations for many Kenyans and foreign visitors for their beautiful sandy beaches stretched out from the South to the North coast and tropical ambience.
To crown it all will be the five-day NRG Wave festival events, which kicked off last night with stars Nandy, Willy Paul and Kikuyu Benga musician Samidoh thrilling hundreds of music lovers who had turned up at the Mombasa Sports Club ground. Today, Eric Omondi will be on stage together with other comedians.
Mama Ngina Waterfront, temporarily opened to the public for the festive season, was also filled to capacity with traders cashing in on the high number of visitors.
“Business is good, the refurbishment has helped pull a big number of visitors and since December 24, I have made good money,” said Ali Gunza, one of the traders.
A spot check in Nakuru revealed most hotels in the region are operating between 60-80 per cent bed occupancy, with growing numbers attributed to improved infrastructure and roads, and aggressive marketing by the county government and Nakuru Tourism Association.
Lake Nakuru Lodge marketing director Joseph Muya said attractions and the cool environment in the county have enabled them to lure more tourists in the region.
“We are doing fairly well in terms of bookings, the hotel has recorded bed occupancy of 80 per cent with local and international tourists in equal measures, the attractions and cool environment within the county have enabled us to lure more tourists in the region,” Said Muya.
Nakuru has more than 10 tourists attractions including Lake Nakuru National Park and Menengai Crater.
However, the usual splendor accompanying the festive season was hard to spot in most parts of the town.
Most residents attributed dull celebrations to shallow pockets, high cost of living, insecurity and thoughts of school fee, which did not allow them to engage in fun activities unlike yesteryears.
“Some of us don’t know what to celebrate, we don’t have money. Let me stay at home,” said Janet Kimani.
In Nairobi, things were quite different. Nairobians in their ‘Sunday best’, thronged Uhuru Park to have a taste of Christmas despite the economic hardship that blocked many from going upcountry or on long vacations.
Parents paired outfits with their children, and a joke arose that if a child in Kitenge is lost, all you have to do is look for the parent/s with a similar print.
Walking from one part of the park to another was a tougher task; one needed to keep an eye on others, their gadgets and on moving animals.
It was a spectacle to see animal handlers screaming their head off to get individuals off the already narrow footpaths. And in bid to have their body parts safe, people would scramble off the path, creating even more pandemonium.