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Malindi food festival to boost arrivals

Hoteliers in Malindi have come up with new strategies of encouraging domestic tourism. Among the initiatives is the teaming up of all hotels for a food festival.

The hoteliers have initiated a cooking competition dubbed Malindi Koroga Masala festival, to be held every three months.  The fete rotates among resorts and the winner awarded with huge prices. Last week, the event was held at Drift Wood Club in Malindi town where hundreds of local and international guests turned up for the fourth Koroga Masala Festival, which was held at Driftwood Beach Club in Malindi town.

The festival aims at helping to revive the dwindling tourism sector in Malindi. Participants included resorts, restaurants and supermarkets keen to showcase their best masala meals.   

Edward Aniere, the owner of Barefoot Beach Camp in Magarini, said the event has proven a crowd puller since it started. “Last week’s koroga was the biggest of all.  Everyone is welcome to enjoy, eat and drink.  Malindi is safe,’’ he said.

He called on Kenyans to visit Kilifi county as it offers some of the ‘best meals in Africa. 

Suheil Bakhrani, the Manager of Seven to Seven Supermarket in Malindi, said the town has been a seasonal destination for the past 10 years and business normally picks in April August and December. He said Malindi is unpredictable in business as one can open up a big business and it fails while a small business thrives.

“Our business is one of the few that supplies everything under one roof. It really gets helpful for the people of Malindi, because when they need anything they don’t have to go to many places, they come here pick what they want and go where they want to go,’’ he said.

“We also promote our local sellers here.  Some products come from Nairobi, others come from here, Lamu and Mombasa,” he added. 

Diego Tosi, chef at Tamu Restaurant in Watamu who joined the festival for the first time said he was happy and excited to have participated in the event. He said the festival was set up in front of the sea, which drew in the crowds.  “It’s an amazing event to meet people, interesting to see colours of food, testing variety of foods, we are cooking masala, vegetarian and non-vegetarian foods,’’ added Tosi.

The early Chinese, Arab and Indian traders followed by the Portuguese sailors and later European settlers and contemporary investors have made Malindi a destination of choice. The  town lies at the centre of a strip of idyllic tropical beaches offering the visitor a range of world-class resorts and quiet relaxing hideaways.

Further south, the sleepy village of Watamu is fronted by wide white beaches. This tranquil haven is home to several well-established resorts, and many private guesthouses scattered through the forest along deserted shores. A Marine National Park has been established, an ideal day trip for divers and snorkellers. Northwest of Malindi is the spectacular Marafa Depression, locally known as Nyari but popularly known as Hell’s Kitchen. Not far away are Gedi Ruins, Arabuko Forest and always, the sandy beaches.

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