Interview: New railway to boost Kenya's coastal tourism
MOMBASA, Kenya, May 30 (Xinhua) -- The Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) is likely to boost Kenya's coastal tourism that has been hit by insecurity fears, a hotelier said on Tuesday.
Mombasa-based Serena Beach and Resort General Manager Tuva Mwahunga told Xinhua in Mombasa that once the 480 km railway that links the port of Mombasa and Nairobi is operational, the number of both foreign and local tourists visiting Mombasa is likely to increase.
"The SGR will usher in a new era of tourism by opening the coastal area to a new class of consumers who were previously locked out of the beach destination," Mwahunga said.
The Chinese funded and built SGR, is set to commence operations officially on Wednesday.
The coastal tourism sector has been previously dependent on foreign tourists whose numbers were affected every time western nations issued travel advisories to their citizens against travel to the region.
Mwahunga said that tourist arrivals in Mombasa, have also been affected by connectivity issues with Nairobi due to the high cost of flying, and insufficient and irregular road transport due to the poor state of roads.
"As a result, tourists have preferred to visit other sites such the Maasai Mara National Reserve or the mountainous region," the hotelier said.
He noted that there are currently no direct scheduled flights between key tourism sources markets in Europe and Mombasa. "As a result tourists have to land in Nairobi and then take another flight to Mombasa," he said.
"This has affected the number of foreign visitors reaching the coast, due to the expenses involved," the general manager said.
"But with the coming in of the SGR, we expect seamless connectivity between Nairobi and Mombasa and a tourism boom," he said.
Kenya's Cabinet Secretary for Tourism Najib Balala said earlier that due to the time saving and safety of trains, the SGR will be welcomed by most Kenyans. He predicted the SGR project would double domestic tourism in the next one year.