Miscellaneous Ramblings by Tony Clegg Butt of Travel News – April 2014

Posted on April 3rd, 2014
Categories: News






Just after last month’s edition went to press (now there is terminology from a bygone era in these days of digital communication), I received an e-mail from Cara Spencer, a former Kenyan resident and long-time tour guide/operator in the UK; and a huge fan of this country.

She suggested we do an article on why Kenya’s tourism is suffering so badly, assuring me that it was not due to global recession or security issues in Kenya. She laid the blame squarely on greed.

Cara says Kenya is overpriced and not competitive in the global tourism market place.

She quotes a recent trip to Kenya, where a spur-of-the-moment purchase of a 3-day flying package from Nairobi to the Masai Mara turned out to be much more expensive than a week at a 5-star resort in Morocco, including flights from the UK. To drive her point home she then sent me an advertisement in a UK paper offering a 12-day holiday to South Africa INCLUDING flights for less than her 3-day Mara trip.

Cara further bemoaned the cost of entry into Kenya’s national parks for non-residents, i.e. international tourists. US$ 90 per day. ‘It’s obscene, as it is patently obvious that those funds are not ploughed back into caring for the parks.

No EU resident would pay anywhere near this amount to visit a park or stately home, including Buckingham Palace,’ she says.

The facts check out on all of the above, so some research was required and is, as we speak, ongoing. In the interim I was having a casual chat over a beer with Richard Corcoran, the MD of Liberty Africa Safaris, and popped Cara’s question. It hit a nerve and a fuse blew. ‘It’s not profiteering, but the cost of doing business in Kenya,’ he said. His Letter to the Editor telling all is on page 10. And you have to agree he has a point, actually many excellent points and observations. I hope you feel better now, Richard, for getting that off your chest.

I’d be happy to hear from others on this tetchy subject.

One interesting point made by Richard was the recently introduced legislation that all public service vehicles (matatus, tourist vehicles and the like) having to be fitted with speed governors within 7 days of the legislation being approved by Parliament. It’s now been approved!

Now how ridiculous is that? First off, they are massively out of stock and ditto back ordered – only certain so-called certified companies can sell and install them. And the cost (Kshs. 40,000 a pop)… Imagine the hit on the daily commute to town.

Speeding within the confines of Nairobi and Mombasa given the usual gridlock is nigh on impossible, so why penalise the city’s commuters? Long distance bus travel is another matter all together.

It all beggars belief.

To end the debate, I started on my February column about what I saw as excessive house rentals in Watamu over the festive season, plus a story of slow service and warm beer. We’ve had a number of responses without definitively reaching any consensus either way. Two responses were published in the Letters column last month.

Again I must say that I sympathise with the folk that own houses at the coast and who hope to cover their annual costs via rental returns in the few times of plenty. What to do? Just don’t price yourselves out of the market – remembering that there are now more rental house available than there are those interested in renting at these silly prices.

It was suggested somewhere in all this correspondence that a Tusker on Diani Beach cost Kshs. 500/- as opposed to Kshs. 200/- at Watamu. Not so – Ali Barbours Beach Bar on Diani Beach, a Tusker is only Kshs. 300/-, and what’s more it’s cold…

You heard it here!

Friends Jon Cavanagh, Erik van Vliet and Anne Taylor are planning to publish a not-for-profit book about fishing off the Kenya coast. It will be a high quality, hardback, boxed publication of approximately 100 pages in full colour, using the scrapbook technique and printed in Bahrain – a product of Mills Publishing.

The book will be divided into eras – the forties, fifties, etc., and the content will include: maps and charts, the fishing grounds, the water, the weather, trophies, record catches, 50 years of the Malindi Fishing Club plus other clubs, the boats, the crews, the fishermen and women, the fish, the tackle and traditional local handline fishing.

They are looking for anecdotes, photos to include captions and dates, short stories, press cuttings, old posters, raffle tickets, and records plus ferry tickets and copies of old and relevant bills. The more the merrier.

The group’s sponsors include Snoo (Deborah Colville), Liza Long, Salim Manji, Jonny Havelock, Sean Garstin, Roger Sylvester, Mnarani Fishing Club, Captain Andy’s, Malindi Fishing Club and Watamu Fishing Club.

TNaprilClick on the magazine cover to read this month’s Travel News