Tourists flock to Kenya for Wildebeest migration

Tourist in KenyaBreakfast in the bush after a hot air balloon ride over the Maasai Mara Game Reserve on June 16, 2014. They are among a group of visitors from Britain, Germany, India and Australia who have arrived in the reserve to witness July’s much-anticipated wildebeest migration. PHOTO | GEORGE SAYAGIE

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International tourist bookings for tented camps and lodges in the Maasai Mara game reserve are expected to soar next month, thanks to the annual wildebeest migration.

According to Heritage Hotels chief executive officer Mohamed Hersi, tourist bookings for both Mara Intrepids Camp and Mara Explorer Camp are expected to shoot up to 60 per cent in July from 40 per cent last month.

He noted that the tented camps in the Mara are expected to host tourists from the United Kingdom, the US, Australia and Canada.

“We expect our tourist establishments in the Mara to be busy as from next month as wildlife enthusiasts come to watch the wildebeest migration and the Big Five,” he said.

“From mid-July we expect bookings for our Mara camps to stand at 60 per cent and by September at 80 per cent,” he said.

ACROSS EUROPE

Ashnil Hotels sales and marketing manager Paul Kurgat said tourist bookings for their camp are expected to increase from the current 50 per cent to 70 per cent in mid-July.

The Ashnil Mara camp, he added, expects to host wildlife lovers from across Europe lured by the wildebeest migration.

Mr Kurgat said that bookings for the Mara might improve for the better if all is well in the country.

“The forecast for tourist bookings for the Mara looks good at the moment in the wake of the wildebeest migration,” he said.

“We hope that the authorities will intensify security in the Mara to secure local and international tourists coming here for game drives,” he added.

Kenya Association of Tour Operators Coast branch chairperson Monika Solanki said a German holidays airliner Condor is expected to increase flights to Mombasa next month.

Ms Solanki noted that Condor would increase weekly flights from Germany to Mombasa from two to three times.

The Kato official said the number of passengers from Germany is expected to soar from mid-July as German tourists will be coming to the country for holidays.

“We expect tourist arrivals from Germany to soar from mid-July as holidaymakers come for both leisure and wild safaris,” she said.

“We are glad that the German tourist source market has been very supportive to the Kenyan tourism sector,” she added.

But in Mombasa, Kenya Association of Hotelkeepers and Caterers Coast branch executive officer Sam Ikwaye said hotels were still depending on conferences to stay afloat.

He added that conferences and workshops organised by government agencies, counties and non-governmental organisations have boosted occupancy.

The hotels, he said, were averaging between 30 and 50 per cent occupancy as a result of conferences and domestic tourism.

“At the moment, the hotels in Mombasa have very few international guests due to the travel advisories which were issued by Western countries last month,” he said.

Improved security would open the floodgates for more tourist arrivals, he added.

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Edition 65June 2014

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