Social Media Exposes Racist Attitudes in Kenyan Tourism Industry
The tourism industry in Kenya, both private and public sector, are investigating claims made over the Christmas and New Year period, when African Kenyans went public on Twitter and Facebook, narrating experiences of being denied access to hotels and resorts and in one case being asked to leave from Flavio Briatore’s Billionaire Resort in Malindi.
At the time, Mohamed Hersi, General Manager of the Sarova Whitesands Resort, made a few visits to the places mentioned, in his capacity as an elected representative of the tourism industry, and found to his disdain that he, too, was denied access to some resorts for not being booked or having come without making prior arrangements with management.
While most resorts, hotels, safari lodges, and camps in Kenya and East Africa as a whole, treat any guest as a valued guest, there seems to be exceptions to this rule, and the now-closed African Safari Club was most notorious for discriminating against local Kenyan visitors attempting to come into their maximum security facilities - as one stakeholder from Mombasa put it at the time – trying to spend their money on drinks and food.
It is Kenya’s declared policy to achieve a 50:50 ratio in a few years between domestic and foreign tourists, something which will hopefully compel a few errant hotels and resorts to open their doors to any and all visitors coming in, as incidentally mandated by their terms and conditions of business, licensed by government, unless they are operating as a private members club, which was not the case in any of the incidents reported.
Most disturbing at the time when the tweets and Facebook posts were flying around en masse, were reports that African kids had been ushered to other pools, leaving the main pools for the “wagenis” (foreign tourists), which if found correct – investigations are still ongoing – would amount to a clear case of racism, based on the color of one’s skin and not the color of the money in their wallets. Such management has no place in today’s East Africa and should be told to pack and go, while the owners ought to be taken to court to face charges for violating license conditions and for racism.
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