Tourism players in Malindi and Watamu areas in Kilifi County have said that their hotels are 90 percent booked for the festive season and are calling on the government to expand the Malindi International Airport.
They said this during the Annual Italian Week of Cuisine held at the Medina Palms Resort in Watamu where the Italian Ambassador to Kenya Roberto Natali graced the occasion.
Mr Daniele Tirito, the Owner and General Manager of Jacaranda Beach Resort, Jumbo resort, and Bravo club in Watamu thanked the Italian Embassy for organizing the event for the Italian Community and the general people of Watamu and Malindi.
“We are fully booked for Christmas with 60 percent foreign tourists and 40 percent local tourists from the East African market,” he said.
Mr Freddie Di Curatolo, the Spokesman of the Italian Community in Kilifi County urged the government to hasten the expansion of Malindi International airport so as to improve the sector by ensuring the runaway is extended to attract direct flights from Rwanda, Entebbe, Addis Ababa, Dubai, and Italy.
Curatolo said once the airport is done the next would be to come up with packages for ensuring tourists experience the best escapades.
“International tourism is coming back now. The main issue is that flights for the international airlines are still very high but we are working on that. For Christmas and January we are waiting for a very huge season,” he said.
Mrs Maureen Awuor, the General Manager of Ocean Beach Resort and Chairperson of Kenya Hotel Keepers and Caterers Association Kilifi County who was present said the Italian Week of Cuisine helps to bring the Italian and the Kenyan Communities together, share food, and learn about their diverse cultures.
“The Italian Week of Cuisine should be blended with the local cultures so as to ensure the celebrations showcase both local and Italian cuisines,” she said.
At the same time, Mr Natali said that his government will soon unveil a training programme for Italian languages in the area.
He said that the program will be implemented in partnership with the Italian institute of Culture. “The learning of the Italian language will help in communication and will go a long way in creating job opportunities for many Kenyans since they will be able to communicate fluently with tourists from Italy,” he said.
The Ambassador said his government has an important sector which is an operation to development that supports key projects in Kenya in many sectors including tourism, education, gender, health, and Agriculture and that they were currently supporting the Kenyan government in tackling the drought situation.
He said that Italy has a renowned and appreciated cuisine, which is an important factor to their culture.
“As we showcase our Italian Cuisine we would also like to know more about Kenyan Cuisine, so this is an exchange of culture so this is an event that can increase the friendship between the two countries,” he said.
Kilifi Deputy Governor Flora Chibule who graced the occasion on behalf of Governor Gideon Mung’aro said tourism used to thrive when the governor was mayor and expressed optimism that the sector will make a major comeback in Kilifi.
She said they are happy to collaborate with the Italian government on matters of tourism, Gender, and health among other areas.
“Such events will help to improve the tourism sector and ensure it thrives again in Watamu and Malindi,” she said.
Speakers: 1.Daniele Tirito- GM Jakaranda resort, 2.Freddie Di Curatolo- Italian Spokesperson 3.Maureen Awuor- GM Ocean Beach resort, 4Florah Chibule- Deputy Governor Kilifi and 5.Roberto Natali- Italian Ambassador to Kenya.