Editorial

EDITORIAL

This year's strange August in Kenya

Tourism half-measures, election anxiety

01-08-2022 by Freddie del Curatolo

August has always been a 'middle' month for Kenyan and especially European tourism.
We are peoples who identify holidays with summer, the sun the heat and consequently almost always the sea. Oh God, for Northerners there are also rivers and lakes...in short, you may love the mountains but sooner or later the need and the pleasure of cooling off arrives.
For Kenyans it is different: August comes just after what, in terms of temperature and rainfall, was the equatorial winter. We are in a kind of European April, although on the coast (as is often the case in the Mediterranean belt) temperatures rarely drop below twenty degrees.
In Kenya, however, it is also the longest holiday.
If it is true, in fact, that at Christmas it is summer, it is also true that in many ways both in the capital Nairobi, and in the tourist areas due to the arrival of 'guests', people work and do not close a business lightly, except for a few days between Boxing Day and New Year's Day.
In August, on the other hand, Kenyans take their real holidays, which can last up to two or three weeks. Those who cannot even afford to move to Mombasa and its environs to large all-inclusive 20 euro a day hotels, reminiscent of the 'pensions' on the Riviera of the 1960s, where families from the service industry flocked, return to their home village and enjoy a bit of a break from routine.
Those with economic possibilities have plenty to indulge in.
In the last couple of years, Kenyans, forced by pandemic restrictions, have discovered (or rediscovered) their homeland. We have seen them in coastal destinations, from Lamu to Malindi, Watamu, Kilifi and Diani, as well as in Nyali and Bamburi.
The tourism sector, even the Italian one in Malindi and the more international one in Watamu, can well say that Kenyans have saved the local economy two years in a row during the summer holidays. This year we are witnessing the presumed return of Italians and other citizens from the old continent, who have been missing since the winter of 2020.
Presumed because there are several obstacles: flight prices (which depend on the increase in fuel, a consequence of the Russian invasion in Ukraine and all the vultures who march on it), increased fears of all kinds and the economic crisis in general that forces millions of families to make cuts, which are often reflected in the pleasures defined as 'superfluous' (then one doesn't take a holiday, gets stressed and falls ill... but on the meaning of the word 'superfluous' we could debate from now until August inclusive).
Here, Italians are expected this August, but who knows how many will be able to afford to arrive, despite charters and fast connections. On the other hand, the well-to-do Kenyans who have saved our backsides over the last two years, finally without restrictions can travel and, those who can afford it and love the sea, have booked the nearby islands of Zanzibar and Mauritius, then there are the Dubai and Arab Emirates enthusiasts. Kenyans of Indian origin return to the land of their roots and relatives, and many decide to travel to Europe. Other popular destinations for wealthy Kenyans are Cape Town in South Africa and the cities of Morocco.
So rather than 'in between' this will be a month of 'half-measures'.
Because while the recovery of European tourism is slow and difficult, the presence of local tourism is no longer taken for granted.
Not to mention the election effect. We have already talked about this quite a bit in other articles and we sincerely hope not to have to write anything more after the results of the vote next Tuesday 9.
Otherwise it will be a 'fire' August, but for all other reasons...

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