The Star (Nairobi)

18 December 2012

Kenya: Domestic Tourists Set to Boost Holiday Bookings

LOCALS are expected to boost tourism through last minute bookings as industry players warn the business is down this year owing to a myriad of issues.

The Kenya Association of Hotelkeepers and Caterers said that while bookings at Coast- a popular tourism destination- were down by about 25 per cent; domestic tourists may lift up the market at the last minute.

Foreign bookings are already down because of security concerns and economic woes in Europe. "Comparatively, we moved in to the high season months with low projections for December. However, the projections are likely to change as is already evident after marketing and contacts established through local tour operators for the domestic market," said KAHC.

Kenya Association of Tour operators said that the initial uncertainty over the election date early this year affected forward booking by some of the foreign tourists.

According to Kenya Tourism Board, international arrivals to Mombasa dropped by 23.3 per cent as at end October figures. The drop has also been attributed to pulling out of charter flights from the region due to security issues.

Though Mombasa and generally the Coast province is popular with local tourists, hoteliers have warned that closure of several entertainment clubs over the last have eroded the allure of the destination.

"The general bookings across the country including Mombasa and Lamu are looking up with most of the hotels recording between 80 and 100 per cent within this festive season," said KTB.

In other tourist hotspots like Naivasha, Nakuru and Kisumu, hotels were gearing up for good business ahead of Christmas next week. "In Naivasha we are at 90 per cent occupancy and expect to be fully booked between Christmas and the New Year. We are very happy with how business is going," said Liz Tapawa the assistant marketing manager at Jacaranda Hotels Kenya.

The company runs three hotels including the Elementaita Lodge in Naivasha. Nick Wood the managing director of Sekenani Camp in the Maasai Mara said the bookings at the moment are "way low" than the volume of business the camp usually records during the festive season.

"We are much much low. The threat of an election affected foreign bookings and people decided to go elsewhere so we are trying to do whatever we can with the local tourists. Our overseas bookings are almost nil," said Wood.

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