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Better times ahead as local tourist bookings exceed expectations

BUSINESS
By Standard Team | Dec 25th 2021 | 3 min read
By Standard Team | December 25th 2021
BUSINESS

Mombasa residents having fun at Nyali Beach in Mombasa County on December 24, 2021.  [Kelvin Karani, Standard]

Hotels have registered an influx of local tourists after the industry suffered from the Covid-19 pandemic shock.

Many hotels in Mombasa, Kilifi and Kwale have seen a 90 per cent booking of local tourists, as Kenyans take advantage of the suspension of lock down and curfew.

In Naivasha, hoteliers are a happy lot following a sharp rise in bookings compared to last year. The majority of the hotels around the lakeside town have recorded more than 70 per cent bookings over the long weekend. Security has since been intensified.

“We are not talking of foreign tourists now, although we used to do 80 per cent foreign bookings and 20 per cent local. We are now doing the reverse. We are seeing a lot of local tourists flocking in,” said Daudi Nyambu, the manager of Sun N Sand Beach Resort in Kilifi.

He said last year’s festive season was a disaster for the hotel industry, with most hospitality facilities registering below 20 per cent bookings. “We are prepared for the festivities. We began preparations in August and the market has responded well,” said Nyambu.

Simon Karanja flew from Seattle in the Us to join and enjoy the time with his three children and five grandchildren at the PrideInn Paradise Beach Resort and Spa in Mombasa.

“We came with from US, some from London and Nakuru to celebrate the Christmas season and thank God for preserving us through the Corona period. We should thank God and meet with our families and help others during this period,” said Karanja.

John Michigi said he went to Mombasa to unwind after a long year of hard work and Covid-19. He said even though the economy was struggling, it was important to take time off and celebrate with family.

PrideInn General Manager Ann Peggy said the hotel had more than 90 per cent booking. “We are excited this season, with this year’s theme being ‘sliding and spinning’. We have lined up numerous artists to entertain guests throughout the season,” said Peggy.

Last year, as the country tried to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic, tens of hotels were closed and hundreds of workers sent home due to curfew and closure of bars and eateries.

Several leading hotels in Naivasha, including Lake Naivasha Resort, Enashipai, Sawela, Sopa, Eseriani, Nest Boutique and Heritage established that bookings were high.

According to Lake Naivasha Resort proprietor Rahab Mwihaki, business was better this year. She termed 2020 the darkest period for the hospitality industry. “The bookings this year are impressive and we are looking forward to hosting all manner of guests, including those seeking places to spend the night, swimming, and other services,” she said.

Mwihaki added that they had placed all necessary health and security measures.

Nest Boutique CEO Ronnie Muraya said there was a change in fortune for the sector that was yet to fully recover from the pandemic.

He said many guests took meals and drinks then travelled back to their homes. “The harsh economic times have affected many families, who are expected to pay school fees in a couple of weeks’ time; but the numbers are still impressive,” he said.

Naivasha Deputy County Commissioner Mutua Kisilu said a multi-agency team had been formed to patrol the town and its suburbs. He said Prisons, NYS and KWS officers would be patrolling, with the number of visitors expected to shoot over the weekend and during New Year.

“Naivasha has turned out to be the second coastal town and we want to assure our visitors that their security has been taken care of,” he said.

[Joackim Bwana and Antony Gitonga]

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