Hotel denies slamming door on Kenyan visitors
Posted by Administrator on March 13, 2012
A tourist hotel in the South Coast is at the centre of a storm over allegations of discrimination.
Baobab Beach Resort, which does not market itself as an exclusive club, has been accused of locking out local visitors, including tour operators picking up guests.
Mr Duncan Muriuki, the managing director/CEO of Destination Africa dmc Limited, who said he was denied entry to the resort last week, has threatened to sue the hotel.
“I cannot believe that in this day and age, some beach hotels at the Kenyan coast will not allow locals to enjoy the services they advertise,” said Mr Muriuki.
“As a former chairman of Kato (Kenya Association of Tour Operators) I fought against this issue for years and I thought it was over. I am sad that some hotels still discriminate against people based on colour,” said Mr Muriuki.
This comes after the hotel wrote him a letter of apology “for the unpleasant experience at our resort’s main gate on Tuesday last week.”
The letter, seen by the Saturday Nation reads: “We regret any embarrassment caused by our security personnel and inconvenience caused to the clients.”
The letter attributes the stringent rules to the Al-Shabaab threat and the Kenya Defence Forces operation in Somalia.
It says the measures were taken to protect its guests and “are not in any way intended to discriminate against any client or agent.”
“This unfortunate incident has made us realise that we need to change these guidelines,” the letter reads. Mr Muriuki, however, is not the only unhappy person.
Sales representative Evelyne Ndege said she and her husband were late last year denied entry into the hotel after driving all the way from Nairobi.
“On getting to the hotel, we were told we could not go in. When we asked to speak to the manager, we were told he was not in and we had to leave,” said Ms Ndege.
Mombasa and Coast Tourist Association chairman Mohammed Hersi, said though some hotels may be exclusive, he did not see anything wrong in letting people come in and make inquiries at the reception.
Writing on his Facebook page, he said: “Some of these resorts must revisit their policy about people accessing the hotel. Letting someone into the reception to explain their mission is simply not asking too much.
“Many claim they are all-inclusive …hence controls at the bars becomes a problem but surely it’s your business as a hotelier to deal with that.
“I have been stopped in three places in South coast yet I am a fellow hotelier. I want to assure everyone that I have spoken to management at Baobab and they know that they need to sort out accessibility issues at the main gate.
“It is humiliating and totally unacceptable for anyone to be stopped at the gate. It is demeaning. I have spoken to the management of Baobab hotel and expect them to quickly address the matter,” he said.
Mr Muriuki said staff from his company had to wait for their customers from Europe outside the hotel’s gates. The clients were forced to walk the few hundred metres to the gate with their luggage, he said.
“We had to wait outside the gates for the visitors, travel agents from Lithuania who were in the country to see what Kenya has to offer.
“And here they were being forced to tote their luggage all the way to the gate because of this hotel’s discriminatory policies,” said Mr Muriuki.
He said even the security manager whom he spoke to on phone stood his ground, so did the receptionist.
“If I could experience this as a tour operator, and not even once but twice, what about common Kenyans?” asked Mr Muriuki.
Mr Solomon Kores, a tour operator with Maniago Tours, said he was denied entry to the hotel without explanation by security guards.
“It was a very bad experience and I call upon the Tourism ministry and all other stakeholders to take stern measures against such actions or people who impose such rules,” said Mr Kores.
In his protest letter to the hotel’s general manager, Mr Adam Sheik, Mr Muriuki contends that the two incidents he was subjected to at the hotel were clearly discriminatory.
Mr Muriuki is seeking damages for infringement of his constitutional right to non-discrimination and freedom of movement.
Mr Muriuki has threatened to sue and in a protest letter to the hotel’s management, he contends the two incidents experienced at the hotel were clearly discriminatory.
“As a direct consequence of your company’s discriminatory policy, our client’s fundamental right to equal treatment and his freedom from direct or indirect discrimination under Article 27 of the Constitution were violated.
“His right to freedom of movement was also violated as he was denied the right to enter your hotel, which can only be denied for a lawful purpose,” reads the letter written by Mr Muriuki’s lawyers, Nderitu and Partners.
Last month, Tourism minister Najib Balala directed his Permanent Secretary at a press conference after announcing of the 2011 tourism results to crack down on hotels which practised discrimination and warned that they risked being blacklisted.
He said it was insensitive and unconstitutional for any hotel to discriminate against guests on racial, nationality, tribal or religious grounds.
Mr Balala said there had been complaints from some Kenyans and nationalities that they had been denied access to some exclusive hotels and apartments.
“We are not going to condone this and we have sounded a warning that we will not hesitate to revoke their licences,” he said.
Coast branch executive officer of the Kenya Association of Hotel Keepers and Caterers Sam Ikwai said his organisation had not received any official complaints about discrimination though he had heard some people calling in to radio stations.
“Those complaints must be isolated cases. There are security concerns and hotels have tightened security, including screening, and this should not be taken negatively. Furthermore hotels have right of admission,” said Mr Ikwai.
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