31-10-2022 by Freddie del Curatolo
A new high tourist season is upon us in Kenya, and thousands of foreign tourists are preparing to land in the African country, especially to savor warm climates and enjoy beaches and the Indian Ocean. But also to take advantage of a destination like no other in the world that can offer in a matter of hours the attraction of a relaxing paradise between palm trees and coral reefs and the boundless savannah populated by wild animals, with the Lion King in the lead, but also elephants, giraffes, rhinos and so on.
According to the now former Kenyan Minister of Tourism Najib Balala, who after 12 years has been "retired" by the new government, by the end of the year we will be back to the 1 million tourist quota, as had been the case in recent pre-pandemic years when there had been a definite upswing after the dross of the 2017 elections and its tail of protests and violence that, although they developed only in certain neighborhoods of the capital Nairobi and Kisumu on Lake Victoria, cities far removed from areas frequented by tourists, had created difficulties. This year, despite the "guffaws" of certain press and the concerns (also justified) of insiders, the elections passed quietly just as Covid-19 is no more frightening than many other diseases. Travel is easier even if flight prices are less affordable than they used to be.
But those who love Africa and dream of a special vacation don't mind an extra 100 or 200 euros. Because if they can't afford it, they don't even think about Kenya.
Here then, for our compatriots, the two seaside destinations (and an hour away from the savannah) that have been most popular and popular over the years, Malindi and Watamu, fatally come back in vogue.
Or perhaps we should reverse the order, wanting to start with the most coveted and featured in travel agency catalogs or online advertisements. And to say that there was a time when Malindi was queen and Watamu known by a niche tourism or tour operators who were entering Africa for the first time. Back then, and we are talking about the 1980s and early 1990s, Watamu was a satellite of Malindi, attracting 80,000 to 100,000 tourists a year. Good times, not only for Kenya but for international tourism in general.
Today the two destinations are as different as they can be, but together they can become complementary and help each other: Watamu is the "pearl of the Indian Ocean" and is growing in quality and clientele from all over the world, thanks to its fabulous bays and beaches and a series of "facilities" designed also for the new generations: clubs, restaurants, hangouts, water sports, accommodations immersed in the ecosystem, and much more.
Malindi has the amenities, commerce, more nightclubs and beach parties and an Italian community settled for years that also means renowned restaurants and cuisine of our country and opportunities to learn about the reality of the Kenyan coast through those who have lived there for many years. Malindi, however, is in danger of losing the streetcar with our times, even if it retains the decadent charm of its thousand-year history and also the not-so-ancient glories of the elite tourism that has been so much talked about and not only since Briatore arrived.
If these two destinations, never so different as they are in the present day, would unite in promotion and their tourism entrepreneurship would immediately begin to make itself heard with the new Minister of Tourism appointed by President Ruto to open international flights at the Malindi airport, we could be on our way to one or more good seasons, treasuring what has been for these special places and optimistically imagining what will be.
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