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Hoteliers to end year in high note after peaceful polls

Hotels, lodges and tented camps are expected to receive more international guests from next month following peaceful elections last week.

According to Kenya Association of Hotelkeepers and Caterers Coast branch executive officer Sam Ikwaye, hotels are expected to receive more holidaymakers in September due to the calm enjoyed in the region.

“We are glad that all the coastal resort towns have been experiencing peace and tranquility during and after the General Election,” he said.

READ: Matiang’i says poll peaceful

TOURISTS
After the elections, he added, hotels expect to receive more domestic and international tourists between September and November with the climax expected in December.

Diani Reef Beach Resort and Spa managing director Bobby Kamani said international tourist bookings are on the rise, bolstered by the calm in South Coast.

He said the hotel, which currently has 40 per cent occupancy, expects guest numbers to soar to between 50 per cent and 70 per cent from next month.

“We are experiencing an increase in bookings from the US, the UK, China, Germany and India from September onwards,” he said.

MADARAKA EXPRESS
Mr Kamani attributed the surge in international bookings to marketing campaigns the hotel carried out in the US, Europe and Asia.

On the other hand, the hotelier added that the facility expects to receive more domestic holidaymakers as a result of the Madaraka Express trains, which he said had boosted domestic tourism.

Sarova Whitesands Beach Resort general manager Siddharth Sathe, said currently, the hotel had 45 per cent occupancy, with 20 per cent being international guests.

“In July, we enjoyed 75 per cent occupancy, but guest numbers dropped during the elections. We expect a rise in bookings between now and September,” he added.

CONFERENCES
Mr Sathe said the hotel is hosting guests from the UK, United Arab Emirates, Italy and Russia.

Sai Rock Beach Hotel general manager Robert Kiri also expressed optimism that guest numbers would increase from next month.

Mr Kiri added that the hotel expects to receive more tourists from Germany and the UK.

Following the peaceful elections, he said, the hotel expects to host conferences from the county governments, NGOs and the national government.

WILDEBEEST
In the Maasai Mara National Reserve, Mara Intrepids and Mara Explorer manager Kevin Muendo, said the tented camps had 70 per cent and 30 per cent occupancy respectively.

Now that the elections are over, he said, he expects international tourists going to the reserve for the wildebeest migration to increase from next week.

“At the moment, we are hosting guests from the US, the UK and India. But we expect more visitors to come for safari this week,” he explained.

HOLIDAYS
Sarova Mara Game Camp manager Kioko Musyoki said the facility had 80 per cent occupancy, adding that he expected more tourists to come to the Mara in the coming weeks.

He said their guests were from Australia, the UK, with a majority being from China.

Normally, August is a busy month at the Coast since the high tourist season begins mid-July.

Hotel occupancy in Mombasa and Diani in August ranges between 60 and 70 per cent by international tourists, boosted by domestic tourists due to school holidays.

AIRLINES
Most of the chartered airlines from Europe normally resume flights to Mombasa in July, contributing to an increase in international visitors.

But as a result of last week’s General Election, hotels in Mombasa and the South Coast had average occupancy of between 20 and 40 per cent as locals who normally make the largest number of visitors to the region, remained in Nairobi and upcountry to participate in the polls.

The Rift Valley region is recording a higher number of international tourists compared to the same period in the past two years as the peak season sets in.

MAASAI MARA
In the past one month, Lake Nakuru National Park has recorded a more than 20 per cent increase in the number of international visitors despite travel advisories issued by some countries during the election period.

According to the park’s senior warden, Mr Samuel Tokoro, the visitors are a spillover of those that have been visiting Maasai Mara.

“This year the wildebeest migration kicked off earlier than usual, and since then we have been recording a high number of tourists who are mainly from other countries,” Mr Tokoro said.

BOOKINGS
In the first week of August alone, said the warden, the park had recorded more than 5,000 tourists.

In July 2016, the park recorded 42,065 international tourists, a number that has risen to 45,984 in 2017.

“Nothing has stopped the visitors even those who had made earlier bookings and we expect more to come,” he said, adding that the park sells a lot to the locals despite it being an electioneering period.

Reported by Mathias Ringa, Magdalene Wanja and Marion Wambui

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