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Tourism CS Alfred Mutua breaks silence on Airbnbs amid safety concerns

Tourism Cabinet Secretary Alfred Mutua has issued a cautionary advisory to Kenyans, urging them to verify the legal status of Airbnb establishments before making bookings, emphasising the importance of safety in the wake of recent criminal incidents in the short-stay accommodation sector.

In a statement released on Tuesday, January 16, CS Mutua expressed concern over the rising criminal incidences and stressed the need for the public to confirm the registration and license status of facilities.

He highlighted that compliance with government directives and maintaining quality standards should be a priority for both hosts and guests.

“While hospitality services in Kenya are generally safe, recent incidents have raised concerns. We urge the public to verify the registration and license status of facilities to ensure compliance with government directives and maintain quality standards,” said Mutua.

The CS’s statement follows the shocking murder of Socialite Starlet Wahu in an alleged Airbnb in South B.

The incident, along with another gruesome murder in Roysambu, has heightened concerns about the safety of short-stay accommodation.

Also read: Update on TRM Drive murder: Foreign national arrested at JKIA

Socialite Starlet Wahu, 26, was found murdered on January 6, and CCTV footage showed her checking into the short-term rental apartment in the company of her suspected killer, John Matara.

Autopsy results revealed that she was strangled and bled to death from a deep stab wound.

In the Roysambu incident, police discovered the body parts of a woman stuffed in plastic waste bags and dumped by a dustbin collection point inside an apartment on TRM Drive.

Although the investigation is ongoing, Mutua stressed the importance of taking proactive measures to ensure safety.

Airbnbs in Kenya are regulated by the Ministry of Tourism through the Tourism Regulatory Authority (TRA), responsible for registration, licensing, and regulation of hospitality and tourism activities.

Mutua reiterated the ministry’s commitment to the well-being and safety of all stakeholders involved in the tourism industry.

“To uphold the integrity of our tourism industry, the Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife, through the Tourism Regulatory Authority, will rigorously enforce compliance, taking legal action against any violations of TRA licensing laws. Late renewals will be subject to penalties and other consequences as stipulated by law,” warned Mutua.

The CS further disclosed that the ministry is in the process of reviewing TRA regulations to enhance business practices.

The revised regulations will undergo public participation, with input from tourism and hospitality players aimed at fostering closer cooperation with accommodation providers.

“Together, we aim to restore and strengthen the confidence of visitors in the safety and security of our diverse and beautiful accommodation facilities,” he concluded.