MOMBASA, Kenya, Jan. 31 (Xinhua) -- Kenya is banking on beach destination transformations and marketing as a tourism package to improve tourism numbers at the coastal region, a government official said on Thursday.
Najib Balala, cabinet secretary of the Ministry of Tourism and Wild Life, said despite the increase in tourism arrivals, those to the beach destination declined by more than 50 percent.
"Our plan is also to define the coast and make the beach destination distinct," Balala told at a forum attended by tourism stakeholders including hotel owners and government officials in Mombasa.
He said Kenya's tourism performance surpassed two million international arrivals in 2018, with over 157 billion Kenyan shillings (about 1.57 billion U.S. dollars) in tourism receipts, contributing 10 percent of the country's gross domestic product.
Balala said beach tourism revival is necessary because visitors' tastes have changed and have become more curious and demanding.
The day-long forum which sought solutions to enhance beach experience and product development saw stakeholders resolved to improve connectivity by upgrading local Diani and Lamu airstrips into national airports and increasing road network.
Stakeholders are also banking of Kenya Tourist Police Unit to improve police presence at the beaches to curb theft.
Mombasa is Kenya's main coastal tourist destination which is popular with white beaches, coral reef diving and rich cultural Swahili heritage.
Currently Mombasa is receiving nine chatter flights every week, a sign that international tourists have confidence in the coastal port city which had received travel advisories for terror attacks targeting foreign tourists three years ago, according to the tourism ministry.