TCB’s Miscellaneous Ramblings – October to November

Posted on November 5th, 2018
Categories: News

The Kenya safari circuit sold-out in October, now there is a happy piece of news, and long may it last. Kenya’s safari product has long been considered expensive when compared to its other competitors on the continent. The quality and diversity of a Kenyan safari experience, however is far superior to anything else anywhere in Africa. You will agree?

But, there comes a time when cost over experience has to stand up to scrutiny. The recent imposition of value added tax on fuel, a ‘Robin Hood’ tax on bank transactions, a levy to support low-cost housing and the general tightening of our tax regime here in Kenya is going to have a massively negative impact on our value proposition. Not just for tourism but the entire economy.

I can hardly see tourism suppliers not passing these costs of doing business onto their clients. But is there a Plan-B? Perhaps taking the Ryanair model approach, I shudder to even suggest this. Where you pay less for a seat and then everything else you want is added on, which equates to a ton of incremental revenue – turn this model on its head with a safari overlay and what do you get. A from price that blows everyone out of the water, and you could then possibly tailor the add-ons into must-haves.

Thinking out of the box, any box, rather than increasing the price is an option we should all consider. I’m just saying – so please don’t shoot the messenger.

As most of you will know my favourite coast destination is Watamu just south of Malindi, a sleepy back-water with to-die-for-beaches, a few small hotels, rustic in a word. Progress has to come that’s a given, but you’d never ever expect plans for a 61-storey tower, 370-metre high, the tallest in Africa, to suddenly and unexpectedly appear on the road across from the beach.

I’m no engineer but to underpin a building as high as this on coral rag and sand is, well, not possible anywhere in the world. There are so many other issues surrounding this fantasy build, not least the amount of empty beds and the state of our coasts tourism industry. Blinded by the ‘J’ word, jobs, the county government is all of a twitter, they are also blinded by the environmental impact it will have on the region.

But let me share the blurb from the developers just so you know from whence I speak: a 270-room 5-star hotel and spa, 180-luxury apartments, a 24-hour casino, a convention centre, an observatory, a shopping complex/mall, and a private beach.

Now we all know that there is no such thing as a private beach in Kenya, so lets knock that one on the head.

The company touting this ludicrous fantasy is Crystal Business SA of Lugano in Switzerland – its Chairman is Dr. Guiseppe Moscarino a vet with few substantial credentials other than his love for Africa, the Managing Director is Oliver Nepomuceno his CV on their website shows little capacity for a project like this, as is the case of the architect Lorenzo Pagnini.

Nicky Parazzi a long-time resident of Watamu and a leading eco-warrior penned these comments on social media recently.

Described as outrageous, and Dubaiesq: and an April fools joke by many, but apparently being touted in Italy and elsewhere, including (according to the developer himself) in high political circles in Kenya. Of concern, at a stakeholder meeting in April, the developer and his team could not answer rudimentary, questions about the build in an extremely challenging, natural geographical area and the project in general – including a simple question about how many people the building would cater for (both workers and clients). And yet again the promise of jobs over-rode all serious questions. A sure sign there’s a need to scratch the surface. 

 We can NOT afford to take this lightly! Let’s stop spoiling Watamu! Keep it natural for future generations. Click HERE to sign our petition.

 One interesting snippet gleaned from the dailies last week, was that all imported used vehicles HAVE to be shipped from Mombasa by rail. So, it might stand to reason that us folk from Nairobi and up-country will be able to utilise the empty wagons back down to Mombasa when on holiday or on business, for our vehicles, thus saving us all the drive.

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