By Dickson Wekesa,
Tourism players in the North Coast celebrated this year’s Easter holiday differently following the restrictions issued by the government to contain the third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The partial lockdown in five counties forced hundreds of local tourists to cancel their bookings with a spot check in Malindi revealing that the majority of those who visited beaches were locals with few foreigners who mainly live in the area.
Local beach operators and artists who depend on tourism have been forced to look for alternative means of survival.
“After hard times it’s good to be with friends and family and share the good time even if there is no money,’’ said Kennedy Simba, an artist who lives in Malindi.
Since the pandemic struck, he lost his day job of organizing safaris, excursions for tourists.
He said youth who relied on tourism for a livelihood now operate boda bodas or work in the construction sector to make ends meet.
“Tourists would love to come and enjoy the natural sunny weather but cannot due to the restrictions imposed by their governments,’’ Simba said.
He added: “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 to live with the pandemic.”
On his part, John Mvuko Ndago, who is the chairman Break Yakutsi Beach Operators in Malindi and also runs a beach restaurant, revealed that times have been hard.
Since the pandemic began the international market has not returned to normal a problem that has left many hotels to close down business in Malindi, Watamu, Mamburui, and other parts of the north coast.
“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 initiate relief efforts to cushion them against the economic losses.