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Tourism sector booms on peaceful poll

Tourism is expected to perform well in the next four months as a result of peace experienced during and after the August 8 General Election, according to hoteliers.

Although the high season normally begins in mid-July, the industry had slowed down as potential tourists adopted a wait-and-see stance due to uncertainty that characterises elections in Kenya.

But despite events before and after the polls, a large number of international holidaymakers flocked to the popular Maasai Mara National Reserve, thanks to the wildebeest migration spectacle.

Safari lovers from United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Australia, China, India, and Japan enjoyed game drives in the wildlife haven.

According to the new Kenya Tourism Federation (KTF) chairman, Mr Mohammed Hersi, all safari destinations and beach resorts at the Coast enjoyed calm during the period.

“The peace and tranquillity experienced after the polls is a major boost to tourism. Our country has gained a positive image in overseas markets,” he said.

Mr Hersi, who is also the Sun Africa Hotels Group chief executive officer, said lodges and camps in the Mara had between 60 per cent and 80 per cent occupancy, adding that more visitors are expected in the wildlife hotspot next month.

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Full bookings

He said Keekorok Lodge in the Mara has 80 per cent occupancy and is expected to be fully booked by September.

Kenya Tourism Board chairman Jimi Kariuki said the sector would improve after the peaceful elections due to aggressive marketing campaigns in traditional and emerging sources.

“Kenya is safe for holidays as security has improved significantly. That we had peaceful polls has boosted the country’s image,” he said.

Ashnil Hotels managing director Rajan Bhandari said lodges and camps in the wildlife paradise have been enjoying brisk business.

He said the Ashnil Mara Camp had been busy as wildlife enthusiasts thronged the game reserve to watch the migration of wildebeest from Serengeti National Park in Tanzania to the Mara. Mr Bhandari said the camp is hosting visitors from the US, UK, Germany, Italy, France, Japan and the Far East.

Diani Reef Beach Resort and Spa managing director Bobby Kamani said international tourist bookings have increased in the South Coast. He noted that the hotel, which has 40 per cent occupancy, expects guest numbers to soar to between 50 per cent and 70 per cent from next month.

Sarova Whitesands Beach Resort general manager Siddharth Sathe said the hotel had 45 per cent booking, 20 per cent of whom are international guests.

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

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