The Covid -19 pandemic containment measures played a huge role in affecting this year’s Easter holiday at the Coast forcing tourism players to have a different style to celebrate the holiday.
Hundreds of domestic tourists had to cancel their bookings to hotels at the Coast following the lockdown imposed on five counties.
Since the Covid-19 struck the country last year, the international tourism market has been on a slow recovery. It return to normalcy has been stagnant with the pandemic still ravaging the world.
Many hotels in the North Coast like Malindi, Watamu, Mamburui have close down business.
In Malindi for example, a spot check revealed that in these holidays, majority of those who had turned to the beaches were locals and very few foreigners who live in Malindi.
Local beach operators and artists who depended on the tourism for survival has been forced to look for alternative means of survival.
Kennedy Simba aka K-Simba artist a resident of Malindi casuarina area covid 19 pandemics has forced them to seek alternative means of survival which they never expected.
Since the pandemic struck, he lost his normal job of organizing safaris, excursions for tourists but have been forced to come to the beach together as a group to celebrate as there is no work to be done.
“After hard times it’s good to be with friends and family and share the good time even if there is no money,’’ he said.
Many youths who worked in the tourism sector he said have now ventured into bodaboda riding, construction work for survival.
Simba said most of the people have been affected by the pandemic and just hope one day the government will change one day and the tourism industry returns to normal.
Currently, he said many people especially youth who completed school are now suffering as the only source of income in the tourism sector collapsed.
He said the foreign investors have also been affected as some are still locked up in their country while tourists wishing to travel are also not able to tour the resort town.
“Tourists would love to come and enjoy the natural sunny weather but cannot due to the restrictions imposed by their governments,’’ he said.
“Rastaman always lives with hope maybe Uhuru may wake up tomorrow and tell people to go back to their normal works, set up clear measures that will enable us live with the pandemic,’’ he said.
Malindi Break Yakutsi beach operators chairman John Mvuko Ndago who also own a beach restaurant specializing in selling sea foods such as octopus, fish, prones among others for both local and foreign tourists said tourism has highly been affected.
“We thank President Uhuru for opening the economy and urged him to understand the plight of beach operators and other small business people,’’ he said.
Mr Ndago said they work as per the timings set by the government which is challenging considering their group consisting of members with families who are dependent for survival.
He said their group consists of 20 members who have different responsibilities from cooks, others are beach cleaners, waiters, and barmen.
“When we started this business there was good income but due to the low tourism numbers caused by the covid 19 pandemic it has been difficult for them to survive and cater for their family members,’’ he said.
Ndago asked the government to think of a way of supporting them cushion against the pandemic which has really affected them negatively.
Kaingu Supi a local musician from Fanisi band said covid has affected artists because before the pandemic they used to get a lot of shows.
Right now, they are forced to organize free shows as per the covid 19 regulations and ensure they entertain their fans which is challenging because they cannot get daily bread.
He said the shows they organize on the beaches not only entertain but help people refresh their minds as the majority are depressed following the effects of the pandemic on the economy.
“We do not get anything, our sector has been highly affected because there are no shows, many shows are done online, hotels were closed and we cannot perform to those opened due to the time limit,’’ he said.
Supi urged the president to help in the tourism recovery so that curfew is lifted and people follow the covid 19 rules.
Emmanuel Shukrani a resident of Malindi said he was happy to celebrate Easter on the beach with many others despite the covid 19 pandemic.
He said they have a restaurant and cook all the seafood which people love so much both local and foreigners.
“The number of tourists has gone down many prefer celebrating easter in the coastal beaches but as you can see due to the covid and lockdown it has been difficult for them to come and those who were here cannot go back,’’ he said.