Going by bus was another route, but sometimes it takes up to 10
hours to reach the coastal city from Nairobi due to traffic
"The train is a perfect service and it is the reason why
I travelled to the Coast because you are assured of your
journey," said government auditor Jane Wamalwa, who travelled to
Mombasa, then further down to Malindi.
Among popular spots domestic tourists visited in Kenya’s
coastal region during this Easter were the beaches, which were
mainly populated by ordinary Kenyans this time round unlike the
past where international tourists dominate.
Most of the hotels, lodges, tented camps and holiday homes
recorded over 80 percent occupancy and brisk business during
this Easter, according to Victor Shitakah, chairperson of Kenya
Coast Tourist Association.
Other things making Kenyans warm up to domestic tourism
besides availability of good transport include improved security
and growing economy.
In the financial year 2017/18, Kenya’s domestic tourist bed
nights stood at 3.67 million, up from 3.64 million in 2015/17,
according to the Kenya Tourism Board (KTB), with the Kenyan
coast destinations like Mombasa, Malindi and Watamu being the
Other towns that also attract local tourists include Naivasha
The train, which is built by Chinese, contributed
significantly to the numbers, with the service ferrying 1.7
million passengers between Mombasa and Nairobi in 2018, latest
Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) data showed.
In April 2018, when Easter holiday was marked, the train
ferried 140,581 passengers, one of the highest numbers last
year. Some 165,971 people were ferried in August 2018, another
Similarly, some 153,885 were ferried in November 2018 and
186,718 in December 2018, up from 133,618 and 145,180
respectively in 2017, according to KNBS.
"The train definitely has been a game-changer in the tourism
industry for the benefits it offers which are convenience,
affordability and advanced booking, which enables ordinary
Kenyans, but especially those in the middle-class, plan for
their trips," said Ernest Manuyo, an analyst at Pioneer
Institute in Nairobi.
International tourist numbers stood at 2.02 million in 2018,
with most of the tourists similarly travelling to the coast via
the train service.