Hotels at the Coast are the biggest beneficiaries from domestic and international tourists during this festive season even as heavy rains keep numbers away from parks.
This is despite low numbers compared to last year, blamed on low disposable income in the wake of a tough economic span which has affected spending patterns by Kenyans.
Most hotels at the Coast, mainly Mombasa and Diani, have reported average occupancy of between 80-90 per cent this week. Some are however lower at 65-70 per cent, the Star established yesterday.
Some hotels are however expected to hit 100 per cent occupancy from next weekend ahead of the Christmas break, a trend expected to spill over into the early week of January after the New Year celebrations.
The Kenya Association of Hotel Keepers and Caterers(KAHC) yesterday said majority of facilities in the North Coast Mombasa and South Coast (Diani) are currently at 90 per cent, with the two key destinations enjoying a capacity of about 30,000 beds.
“Bookings are expected to continue improving. We project 100 per cent occupancy during Christmas in the two regions. Malindi is however struggling due to accessibility issues,” KAHC executive officer Sam Ikwaye said.
Among hotels that are fully booked include Baobab Beach Resort in Diani.
“We are practically fully booked to January 5,” general manager Sylvester Mbandi said, where 60 per cent are domestic tourists while 40 per cent is international.
Baobab has three resorts in one hotel facility with a total of 350 rooms. International tourists are mainly from Germany, Poland,Britain,France and Belgium.
Nyali Sun Africa Beach Hotel and Spa reported occupancy of 60-70 per cent where 90 per cent is domestic.
Also with a lower mark is Travelers Beach Hotel in the North Coast, which yesterday reported occupancy of 65-70 per cent for this week.
This is however expected to rise from December 23 into the New Year, sales and marketing manager Wafula Waswa said.
“We still have availability. We are hoping people will take up the offers we have mainly families. We can’t however compare to last year. This year numbers have been low probably because of low disposable income,” Wafula noted.
In the parks, the major challenge remains roads which have been affected by rains.
“Mara(Masaai Mara) is quite busy but roads are a bit of a challenge. Samburu is also affected by rains. Generally national parks are affected by rains though business looks promising. Hotels at the Coast are however almost fully booked,” Kenya Tourism Federation chairman Mohammed Hersi said.
Tsavo East, West and Amboseli, which have upto 20 major hotel faciltities and camps have reproted an everage 60 per cent occupancy.
Sarova’s Taita Hills Game Lodge and Salt Lick yesterday reported 60 per cent occupancy which is expected to go up to 90-100 per cent during the Christmas week.
General Manager Willy Mwadilo said the facilities in the region are taking advantage of the Standard Gauge Railway morning trains which has stop overs at Voi town.
“We are busy,” Mwadilo said.
“Generally, Tsavo and Amboseli region are doing well. Business is picking as we go into Christmas,” added Mwadilo who is also the region’s KAHC chairman.
Meanwhile, hoteliers have reported complaints by travelers over delays and cancellations by Kenya Airways and Jambojet, which have attracted huge numbers as the SGR remains fully booked over Christmas.
Demand for travel to the Coast remains high during the peak period, according to Tour and travel company Bonfire Adventures, which has arranged 10 charter flights.
“We have charter flights to Ukunda, Mombasa and Malindi,” CEO Simon Kabu told said yesterday.
By Martin Mwita