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Trouble in tourism paradise

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By Prof. Dr. Wolfgang H. Thome, eTN Africa Correspondent | Jan 30, 2014
Trouble in tourism paradise
Image via the-star.co.ke

A number of Watamu-based hoteliers have opposed blatant threats by a section of members of the Watamu Boat Owners Association, which has been attempting to picket boat trips into the marine national park over their opposition to entrance fee hikes implemented by the Kenya Wildlife Service. This association is NOT to be mistaken with the Watamu Marine Association, which has reportedly disassociated itself from those attempting to “disturb the peace.”

Some reports received, in fact, talk of outright threats against hotel boats still operating and taking their own guests out into the marine park, some threats reportedly with nasty racial undertones, while at least one report received yesterday talks of threats of burning boats still operating and not following the wildcat strike and even threats against the lives of tourists daring to venture out to sea.

There was one further unconfirmed report that a diving boat was taken away by some of the strikers, leaving divers stranded until a relief boat came to the scene while a foreign tourist in the boat was taken away against her will though later released.

Only yesterday was an alleged informer against radical elements in the greater Malindi area assassinated just a hundred meters from the Malindi police station, a sign that radicalism has started to spread into this hitherto peaceful resort town, and the wild cat strike, according to one source who demanded strict anonymity, was perhaps a sign that radicals have started to undermine and infiltrate with the aim to disrupt and damage the vital tourism industry.

“Exposing such bad practice is one way to get the authorities take our complaints more seriously. KWS and regular police need to be visible and present at all times to deter such incidents and deal with those lawless elements who threaten other businesses” after the dispute was still ongoing over at least the last week.



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