Speaking to journalists in her office, the Kilifi County Executive Committee member for Trade, Cooperative Development and Tourism Nahida Mohamed said that most tourists were preferring spending their holidays in villas as opposed to hotels and hence the need to follow them up so that they pay taxes same way as hotels.
“We are working hand in hand with the Tourism Fund and the Tourism Regulatory Authority and last year we registered more than 1000 villas which host tourists and we got their contacts through online marketing platforms,” she said.
She added that villas and home stays were rapidly gaining momentum as the preferred choice for tourists and most of them wanted to live and stay with the local communities and learn their way of life.
“They will be paying taxes just like the hotels and this is a new phenomenal in the industry that needs to be tapped into we encourage investors to focus on home stays,” she said.
Nahida also said that the villas and home stays will help both the county and national governments reap big in the tourism sector adding that the number of tourists staying in the villas was growing.
“We are not comfortable with the number of tourists we are receiving but we are working on systems that will eventually see the numbers improve and diversification of products is one of the areas we are going to look into so that we can get to where we are going,” she added.
Through the Kilifi tourism act she said a huge conference center will be set up in Malindi and that a circular with the county government had directed that all government meetings be hosted by local hotels.
“In our government we give priority to local hotels and all county events that require conference facilities are usually held within the county boundary,” she said adding that the conference center project will be implemented between 2020 and 2022.
The issue of tourists harassment she said will also be a thing of the past once tourism markets being set up in Watamu, Kilifi and Malindi are complete.
She said that the markets once complete will give beach operators a one stop shop adding that the Watamu market was near completion.
“We discovered that in some instances we find more beach boys and girls than the available tourists on our beaches and that has brought about competition that has led to harassment of tourists,” she said.