Hoteliers from Mombasa, Diani and Malindi have called on the Tourism Regulatory Authority (TRA) to reign in unregistered and unlicensed tourism establishments fashioned as private holiday homes.
The number and capacity of such facilities has been growing significantly to reap from rising tourism arrivals. The facilities masquerade as vacation rentals to avoid paying of taxes.
Kenya Association of Hotelkeepers and Caterers (KAHC) executive officer, Sam Ikwaye, says the government is losing millions of shillings in revenue since the establishments rake in huge profits with minimum operational costs. “The government has no way of tracing the facilities to pay taxes, levies and other payments that hotels pay. We have also witnessed serious social vices which have been associated with these facilities,” said Ikwaye.
According to Kenya Tourism Federation Chairman Mohamed Hersi, the number of unregulated vacation rentals in the Coast stands at about 280. Many visitors prefer the villas since they are quiet and private.
However, the hoteliers have raised concerns of safety and quality of services the villas offer in addition to ‘unfair’ business competition posed by these unregulated holiday homes. Ikwaye says it has been difficult for KAHC to establish the working conditions and remuneration of workers in villas because their employers are unknown. “The owners of the villas employ unqualified staff, tainting the image of the industry. The State should register all alternative accommodation providers for the safety of tourists,” he added.
TRA is a corporate body established under Section 4 of the Tourism Act No.28 of 2011 mandated to regulate the tourism sector in Kenya. Their concerns emerge as hotels in the region continue to record increased bookings ahead of the Mombasa International Agricultural Show, which takes place next week.
English Point Marina Hotel Director Amyn Kanji said the hotel has remained 90 per cent booked since the start of August, mainly by international tourists. English Point Marina consists of 96 apartments, eight penthouses and a 26-room hotel.