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Travel News
KTB Launches Magical Kenya Tourism APP
Plan to Stop Wildlife Attacks
First Lady Adopts Baby Elephant


Travel News
KTB Launches Magical Kenya Tourism APP
10 Jun 2013

The Kenya Tourism Board has unveiled its first mobile application aimed at boosting visits to the country, by providing tourists a platform in which they can share experiences from their holidays.

 

The Magical Kenya App is also designed to make the visitors experience more seamless by providing tourists with access to the latest and most essential information. The information is built on five key categories including generic information about Kenya, destinations, what to do, what to see and a directory service for the tourism industry, all at their fingertips.

 

Commenting on the launch, KTB Managing Director, Mr. Muriithi Ndegwa said that the application presents a new facet of Information and Communications Technology (ICT), by taking advantage of the increased mobile phone penetration and usage of internet based functionalities.

 

‘Almost half the population of the earth now uses mobile communications. A billion mobile subscribers were added in the last 4 years to leave the total standing at 3.2 billion- with much of the growth attributed to the use of data. It is therefore imperative that we use this ubiquitous tool of communication to market in Kenya’, Muriithi explained.

 

He added that the application, which works on both Android and iOS platforms, also works as a trip planner and journal for users. This allows them to build an itinerary and document travels through photos, maps and video, with location features on their phone to connect with local businesses, hotels, restaurants and many other related tourism service providers.

 

‘It is the perfect travel companion, helping you explore Kenya whether one is preparing for a trip to Kenya, already in the country or simply one is curious and wants to learn more about this beautiful destination’, Muriithi added.

 

In addition, the app makes your experience truly unforgettable by creating a souvenir video that can be integrated with popular social media site; Facebook.

 

Tourism related service providers can list their business on the Magical Kenya App.

Plan to Stop Wildlife Attacks
19 Jun 2013

By Joyce Chege, 19 June 2013 The Star Newspaper

More than 1000 farmers will benefit from a multibillion horticulture project by the Oserian Wildlife Sanctuary. The project will be a means to prevent the human-wildlife conflict in the area.

 

The initiative will see farmers plant garlic, capsicum, pepper and onions as a means of wading off animals in the area. Oserian Wildlife Sanctuary manager John Ndegwa yesterday said the project will help the communities sell more of their produce and prevent animals like baboons, gazelles and buffalos from entering their farms.

 

Ndegwa said the residents plant crops which are palatable to the animals, hence attract them.’We realised that the country has a shortage of 70 per cent of onions and pepper. We want to remove the conventional source of planting maize and beans which do not yield a lot of profit and are appealing to the animals in the area,’ he said.

First Lady Adopts Baby Elephant
20 Jun 2013

By Wambui Waweru, 19 June 2013, Capital News

Conservationist have lauded government action in the face of rampant poaching but said a sustained and coordinated approach is require to crush the increasingly sophisticated criminal cartels that threaten the country.

 

‘At the current rate of poaching, it is estimated that Kenyas elephants will be gone from the wild within 10 years,’ said Dr Paula Kahumbu, CEO of WildlifeDirect.

 

Dr Kahumbu was speaking during First Lady Margaret Kenyatta visit, Tuesday, to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (DSWT).

 

The First Lady went to see baby elephants that have been orphaned as a result of the ongoing slaughter of elephants across Kenya, making her the one of Kenyas first public figures to take personal interest in the crisis facing Kenyas elephants.

 

WildlifeDirect which has played a prominent role in raising awareness about the crisis in Kenya said it and has invited the First Lady to spearhead a national campaign dubbed HANDS OFF OUR ELEPHANTS to unite Kenyans of all walks of life and sectors of society to take personal responsibility towards protecting Kenyas heritage and the countrys economic future.

 

The First Lady was accompanied by Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Water and Natural Resources, Professor Judi Wakhungu.

 

Professor Wakhungu reassured the team at DSWT that every effort was being made by the Government to save elephants. ‘My office is in the final stages of creating a new law that will bring the poaching lords to justice, and crush the criminal cartels’

 

After feeding several of the hungry babies with bottles of milk, the First Lady heard their personal stories.

 

‘I commend the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust for invested so much in rescuing the baby elephants and for giving them such loving care to ensure that they could be returned to the wild,’ said the First Lady.

 

‘There are children in Kenya who have never seen a live elephant, and they may never have a chance to see an elephant if this crisis is not halted,’ she added. ‘We cannot let this happen’.

 

‘Many people do not believe how serious this crisis is this, having the First Lady speaking out about it will ensure that every Kenyan is aware and can support the conservation efforts,’ said Dr Kahumbu.

 

‘We are honoured that the First Lady has chosen to put her name on this campaign HANDS OFF OUR ELEPHANTS which is a message to all those who threaten our heritage,’ she added.

 

After interacting with the baby elephants for an hour, the First Lady chose one to adopt.

 

His name is Tundani, a calf, who was estimated to be under a year old, that was found alone along the Tiva River in the Tsavo East National Park last year.

 

There were no other elephants in the area suggesting that Tundani lost his mother and family as a result of poaching.

 

Over 55 elephants have been poached in the Tsavo ecosystem since January 2013.’

 

On adopting Tundani the First Lady was handed a certificate and will receive monthly updates on her elephant and permission to visit him as often as she wants.

Tourism sector unhappy with budget cuts
19 Jun 2013

By Margaret Wahito on June 19, 2013 Capital News

Players in the tourism sector have expressed their disappointment by reports indicating that Sh2 billion has been slashed from the tourism budget to be used to pay teachers allowances and forestall a strike.

 

The Kenya Tourism Federation (KTF) says if the budget cut takes place, the government should be prepared for massive job losses from the tourism sector.

 

Federation Chairperson Lucy Karume says the effect will not only be felt by investors and employees in the sector but all other sectors in the economy.

 

They say the hospitality sector is a large consumer of locally manufactured consumer goods and agricultural produce.

 

The players want the government to seek funds from other sources and let tourism play its role in sustaining and growing the economy.

 

‘Investors cannot forever hold out waiting for business to improve as we will be expecting not an increase as anticipated, but a decrease in marketing activity,’ Karume said in a statement. ‘This is a dangerous move and will have severe adverse effects on the economy in the short, medium and long term.’

 

They complained that this was just the wrong time to take such a move as the tourism sector is struggling to recover from the down turn it experienced from mid last year.

 

This was attributed to overseas operators shying away from marketing Kenya as a preferred tourism destination because of the General Elections which were held on March 4 this year.

 

While there has been optimism in the sector, the federation says, there have been repeated calls for the government to engage in a serious Tourism Market Recovery Program even as private stakeholders invest more resources in marketing their businesses and the country.

 

‘The fact that the Jubilee government promised to give greater focus to tourism sustainability and growth, has given investors confidence to plough deeper in their pockets to sustain wage bills even in the face of reduced business that is not supporting costs of doing business,’ they complained.

 

They fear that less visibility for Kenya in the international market is guaranteed to result in even lower tourist arrivals, adding that their competitors are giving more focus on marketing their destinations.

 

‘We fail to understand why economic development is being sacrificed with no regard to the consequences it will have,’ they said.

VISA and EATP Pact to Promote Card Spend
15 Jul 2013

By Kennedy Kangethe; Capital News


Global payments technology company Visa is collaborating with the East African Tourism Platform (EATP) to strengthen global tourism interest in the region and promote inbound tourism spend.

 

The year-long collaboration will focus on various initiatives across the region such as the sharing of best practices in the tourism and payments industries, promoting access to the electronic payments chain, and implementing stakeholder networking forums in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.

 

Visa Head of Cross-Border Marketing for Sub-Saharan Africa Jodie Schorn says this collaboration will streamline revenue collection and encourage more tourists spend in the region. ‘Through this collaboration, Visa will help boost electronic transactions in the tourism industry by providing strategic input on setting up secure online payments platforms, offering advice about planning and paying for travel with payment cards, and educating trade partners and consumers on the benefits of card payments,’ She said.

 

Schorn said the collaboration will also see the two organizations work closely to promote card spend in the region and provide insights into payment behaviour of visiting cardholders. ‘East Africa remains a leading tourist destination due to the unique attractions across the region. Enhancing the visibility of retailers’ card terminals at the point of sale is just one way we can increase inbound spending,’ added Schorn.

 

He said the collaboration will also look at measures aimed at further strengthening inflows from both emerging markets, such as China and India, and traditional markets, such as the United Kingdom, United States and Germany.

 

The benefits of increased acceptance of electronic payments within the region’s economies may include convenience for visiting cardholders, guaranteed payment and efficiency for local merchants, and better security of payments, as well as the impetus for further economic and social development.

 

‘The aim of the collaboration is to maximize the efforts of East Africa Tourism Platform to promote intra- and inter-regional tourism in East Africa and to encourage the use of electronic payments in the region,’ said EATP Coordinator Waturi Matu. Matu said that electronic payments accounted for about 5 percent of all inbound tourist spend in the region.

 

The collaboration comes at a time when the region has recorded notable achievements in the tourism sector owing to the East African Community (EAC) partner states working together to market the region as a single destination. Recently, Kenya’s president Uhuru Kenyatta and Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni called for fast tracking the creation of a single EAC tourist visa to facilitate tourism in the region.

 

The private sector in tourism hopes that the EAC Tourism Protocol will be passed and ratified soon, so as to widen and deepen cooperation among the partner states in promoting quality tourism and conservation and sustainable utilization of wildlife and other tourist sites within the EAC. ‘We anticipate that the alliance will increase national and regional uptake of tourism-related services, grow electronic payment transactions, volumes and values whilst increasing access in the entire tourism value chain,’ added Matu.

Varsity Don in Bid to Market Mount Kenya Region Tourism
16 Jul 2013

By Muthini Stephen; Business Daily Newspaper

 

A lecturer at the newly-established Dedan Kimathi University in Nyeri is seeking to misconstrue the notion that tourism is wildlife and he is going out of his way to open up Mount Kenya region to the rest of the world.

 

Simon Wachira is not well-known in academic circles but the Dedan Kimathi University don is doing more than the ordinary professor of Development Studies has ever done – he is focusing on different kind of tourism and de-banking long-held popular beliefs.

 

Mr Wachira who is the founder and chief executive officer of Mount Kenya Tourism Circuit Association is on an aggressive bid to market the region as a tourist destination for lovers and honeymooners.

 

An interesting bit of his campaign is trout fishing atop the mountain.

 

On Sunday, the university don used the occasion of the commemoration of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II at the ACK St Philips Church in Naromoru, Nyeri County to market tourism in the region.

 

The occasion was attended by the British High Commissioner Christian Turner.

 

Among the activities that the association has done in order to open up the region is to train guides under the auspice of the Nyeri Mount Kenya Climbing club.

Tourism Industry Opposes New VAT Bill
15 Jul 2013

By Macharia Kamau; The East African Standard 

 

The tourism industry has joined calls for withdrawal of the proposed VAT Bill warning that it risks slowing down the sector’s growth and new investments.

 

 

Tour operators and hoteliers say also say the government should treat tourism like an export industry and ensure that tax measures does not make the country an expensive destination in the coming years and put them at a disadvantage with competition when marketing Kenya in the tourist source markets.

 

 

At the moment, the Tour operation and travel agency services are among the over 400 items that are tax-exempt.

 

 

The VAT Bill proposes to revoke this exemption and require tour operators to register for and charge VAT. Transportation of tourists, which is currently VAT-exempt, will also now attract VAT.

 

 

‘The Government should retain the current exemptions for tour operators, travel agencies and transportation of tourists by any means. This will give the industry time to recover and stabilise,’ said Kenya Association of Tour Operators Fred Kaigua.

 

 

UNESCO inscribes Kenyas Lewa Conservancy into World Heritage Site
05 Jul 2013

Xinhua News

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has added Kenyas Lewa Wildlife Conservancy and Ngare Ndare Forest to the Mount Kenya World Heritage Site, which was designated a World Heritage Site in 1997.

 

The conservancy joins the ranks of iconic wonders such as the Great Barrier Reef, the Galapagos Islands and the Grand Canyon, all recognized as having outstanding universal value to the global community.

 

The Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) Managing Director Muriithi Ndegwa on Thursday praised the achievement which he termed as a confirmation of the Kenyas amazing landscape that has continued to attract many tourists to the country.

 

‘It is also an assurance to the world that Kenya is keen on sustainable tourism and community involvement in tourism activities and we shall endeavor to do even more,’ Ndegwa said in Nairobi on Thursday.

 

Lewa and Ngare Ndare Forest Reserve were inscribed as an extension to the Mount Kenya World Heritage Site towards end of June following Kenyas proposal to expand the boundary of the world heritage site.

 

The conservancy, which encompasses some 60,000 acres, was founded when David and Delia Craig set aside 5,000 acres of their cattle ranch and converted it into a rhino sanctuary.

 

It is home to 10 percent of Kenyas black rhino population and 14 percent of its white rhino population, not to mention the world s largest population of Grevys zebras.

 

But Lewas mission is not only to conserve wildlife, but also to alleviate poverty in the local community, which is why the conservancy also engages in community healthcare, water management, micro-lending and other social programs.

 

Ndegwa said the World Heritage status is a prestigious recognition for places of outstanding universal value to humanity.

 

Lewa and Ngare Ndare were considered for their outstanding beauty and their varied and impressive ecosystems and biodiversity.

 

The expansion and extension of the criteria for listing will enhance the protection of the property as a world heritage site and improve the conservation status of the mountain.

 

It was on the slopes of Mount Kenya that the Duke of Cambridge Prince William proposed to his wife, now the Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton.

 

The two sites are connected to Mt Kenya via the pioneering elephant corridor that serves as a route for landscape connectivity.

 

The sanctuary will join other Kenyan ecological and cultural treasures such as Fort Jesus, the Kenya Lake System in the Great Rift Valley and Lamu Old Town, and other global sites like the Pyramids of Egypt, the Taj Mahal, the Grand Canyon and the Acropolis.

 

 

Naivasha to Host Major Business Tourism Expo in August
23 Jul 2013

By Antony Gitonga; The East African Standard

 

Naivasha town will host the first ever ‘Naivasha Business, Tourism and Investment Expo’ months after being ranked the 40th destination in tourism in Africa.

 

 

Dubbed as the second Coast, the lakeside town will host over 100 exhibitors on August 9 and 10 this year at the Crayfish Camp in a bid to sell its self as a major tourism destination.

 

 

According to Walter Juma from Ansoffs consultants, the appearance of Naivasha in the International Congress and Conventions Association (ICCA) rankings for the first time was a milestone.

 

 

Juma said the rankings had made the town an important tourism destination in Kenya and the expo would give exhibitors a chance to showcase their products and services.

 

 

‘The expo provides an avenue for interacting, learning and strengthening networks within and without the region,’ he said.

 

 

The expo is expected to lay out a blue print for investors who need to know opportunities the county has to offer.

 

 

Speaking at a Naivasha hotel, Juma called on the business community to take advantage of the exhibition and learn of the opportunities available.

 

 

The Nakuru Chamber of Commerce and Industry chairman, Njuguna Kamau welcomed the expo saying it would redefine the county economically.

 

 

 ‘As the business community we support this initiative and I call on those who wish to invest in the county to take advantage of the expo,’ he said.

 

 

Kamau said Naivasha was strategic in the development of the county given its proximity to Nakuru and the capital city of Nairobi.

 

 

On his part, Cray Fish Camp CEO Peter Mehta said Naivasha was the economic hub of the county and the Expo will also help rebuild its image.

 

 

‘We have been in the news for all the wrong reasons but this Expo which will be done on annual basis will completely change the image even as we seek to better the lives of the residents,’ he said.

 

Global Travel and Tourism Partnership Promoting Tourism Education in High Schools
31 Jul 2013

By Sylvia Wakhis; The East African Standard

 

In an effort to support and promote tourism education, the Global Travel and Tourism Partnership (GTTP) has rolled out a programme to teach young people about travel and tourism and its many career opportunities.

 

 

GTTP is a multi-country educational programme that seeks to equip high school students with knowledge on some of the career opportunities available in the travel, tourism and hospitality industry by preparing a practical travel and tourism curricula and related tourism education activities.

 

 

GTTP Kenya, which was launched as a tourism club, has already recruited 56 public secondary schools in 46 counties for this purpose in the three years it has been in existence. It has been endorsed by the Ministries of Education and Tourism and therefore has the authority to run in public secondary schools.

 

 

More than 150 high school students have benefited from the programme.

 

 

‘Many high school students hardly know about the tourism sector and the many lucrative career opportunities that one can venture into. Tourism is one of the economic pillars of the country. It plays a critical role in realisation of Vision 2030 goals. And just like medicine, engineering or law, one can build a successful profession in tourism and hospitality,’ says Joseph Okelo, Country Director GTTP.

 

According to Okelo, students get an actual experience of the industry through job shadowing, mentorship, career days and site visits.

 

 

 

Travelport to involve Kenyan Students in Developing Tourism Technology
03 Aug 2013

By Joseph Mambili; The East African Standard

 

In a bid to foster greater economic growth globally, Travelport, a global system developer, has partnered with a Kenyan firm, Global Travel and Tourism Partnership (GTTP), to create awareness among schools on how technology can be used in the travel and tourism industry.

 

GTTP, a tourism-promoting organisation, brought together teachers from four counties in a forum on the latest technology used by tourists for easier movement across the globe.

 

According to Joseph Okelo, the GTTP Country Director, modern technology such as smartphone and I-pads will influence the expectations of travelers by shaping their decisions using the global distribution system to make bookings and reservations.

 

Okelo said students should be exposed to unconventional technology-based careers in the industry such as technical web developers, airport check-in staff, website designers, travel training companies and cruise ship booking consultancies.

 

‘Customers of the tourism industry will see advertising that is directly relevant to their whereabouts at that exact moment through smartphone and GPS technology by 2020,’ he said.

 

During the two-day workshop at a Nairobi Hotel dubbed ‘technology used by the global travel industry and travel professionals’, the participants were educated on the impact of technology on the travel and tourism industry.

 

They were also taken through hands on practice of current and future travel technology systems. Mr Okelo said the travel and tourism industry needs to prove its continued growth, starting with grassroots education for secondary school students. ‘Inspiring students and fuelling their enthusiasm to take up a career in the industry in the market place is our sole aim,’ he said.

 

 

Samburu Showcases Camel Racing To Open Up Tourism Circuit
05 Aug 2013

By Njoroge Kaburo; Xinhua News

 

Kenya’s tourism marketers plan to use this year’s Maralal camel derby festival, which has gained international recognition, to showcase the country’s tourism circuit in northern region.

 

Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) said the East African nation will use the Samburu Maralal Camel Derby, to be held from 30th August to 1st September,  to diversify its tourism offerings, which usually include traditional beach and wildlife game.

 

‘This is one of the key events; we are leveraging on to open up the northern tourism circuit in line with our tourism diversification strategy,’ KTB Managing Director Murithi Ndegwa said on Thursday.

 

‘A part from showcasing the culture, the region is known for spectacular sceneries, unique wildlife species, heritage and other attractions,’ said Ndegwa.

 

Last year, the annual event attracted a sizable number of domestic and regional participants as well as those from the U.S., Britain, Germany, Netherlands, India, Ghana, France, South Africa, Brazil, China, Poland among others.

 

The derby will also showcase cultural activities, the most prominent being two weddings that will let the visitors get the full glimpse of some of the most ethnic practices by the local communities.

 

People of Samburu area are traditionally pastoralists although some groups have started promoting subsistence farming to help people diversify their food sources in a bid to mitigate against the effects of climate change that sometimes led to severe drought.

 

Samburu people and other pastoralists are renowned for preserving their traditional cultural practices from food to dressing, which are an attraction to tourists from local and foreign markets.

 

Ndegwa said enquiries from various countries are being made; an indication of interest the annual event has continually attracted over the years both locally and internationally.

 

Ndegwa said marketing and publicity campaigns have been organized to increase tourists flow to the region during the derby.

 

Samburu County Governor, Moses Kasaine Lenolkulal, said the County is partnering with KTB and other sponsors to boost the profile of the sporting event that has been attracting both local and international participation, disclosing that the annual event has registered participants from 16 countries in the past years.

 

‘This event is meant to pull the crowds and sports enthusiasts to the northern part of the country which has a number of unexplored tourism attractions. As Samburu County, we shall aggressively market this circuit with the help of KTB,’ Lenolkulal said.

 

‘Under our theme of promoting peace through Culture and Sports, we have lined up camel races for the amateurs and professionals, peace marathons, bike competition, traditional dances, cultural shows, culinary show among other cultural exchanges from a wider array of traditional neighboring ethnic groups,’ he said.

 

Lenolkulal said the winners of different categories will be awarded with prizes while some money will be channeled towards helping the poor and vulnerable groups such as orphans and disabled in the community.

 

The camel race is among several organised games across the country that use domestic animals for racing competitions.

 

In the historical heritage town of Lamu in the Kenya’s coastal region, donkeys are used for racing competition during the Lamu Cultural Festival that will be held in December this year.

 

In Nairobi, a race involving goats is also held annually at the Ngong Race Course, the same venue for the horse racing competitions.

 

In Western Kenya, bull-fighting as well as cock-fights are popular cultural practises and among tourism highlights that is being promoted by the KTB.

 

Kwale County Banks On Sports Tourism To Shore Up Revenue
04 Aug 2013

By Philip Mwakio; The East African Standard

 

Kwale County Executive in-charge of Tourism, Mr Adam Sheikh wants sports tourism fast-tracked to boost arrival numbers into the Kenyan South Coast tourism circuit.

 

 

In an interview with The Standard on Sunday, Sheikh said the region has abundant water and sports facilities yet to be fully utilised.

 

 

Sheikh said his agenda will be to ensure new tourism attractions which have not been exposed will be marketed aggressively. ‘Kenya is a great sporting nation. Sport has become a trendy part of everyday social life.

 

Kenyan athletes have become world-renowned Olympic and Commonwealth champions crossing finish line in first, second and third places,’ he said. Sheikh observed that sports have inescapably become part of the tourism industry in Kenya, with athletes visiting from countries in Europe, Asia, the US and other parts of the world to train or conduct charitable activities.

 

 

‘The Kenyan coast is a paradise for beach sports such as deep-sea fishing and water surfing in the Indian Ocean,’ he added. He noted that the Coast has the best hotels and on the beaches, guests can go scuba diving Snorkeling and Whale Shark diving.

 

 

‘Diani Beach has a huge potential to become one of the best Whale Shark tourist destination in the world,’ he said. ‘It is one of the few place in the world, where one can set out in the morning to swim with Whale Shark the biggest fish in the ocean and then have a 30 minutes drive to track the biggest land animal the elephant in the afternoon.’ Equally popular is the Diani Beach Masters Golf Tournament, held annually at the Leisure Lodge Hotel & Club. It features a repertoire of local competitors and can be expanded to include international competitors.

 

Diani Beach Masters promises exciting actions on the greens if promoted internationally while the Diani Beach Goat Derby, which he said can be turned into an annual event.

 

Watamu Hotels Ask State to Promote Sports Tourism
06 Aug 2013

By Alphonce Gari; The Star

 

HOTEL owners and residents in Watamu have introduced sporting activities aimed at improving the tourism industry and exploiting available resources. One of the activities is the Watamu triathlon held at Turtle Bay Beach Club annually.

 

It attracts local and foreign tourists. The beach clubs managing director Damian Davis, who took part in the tournament at the weekend, told journalists that the triathlon is a family event that also attracts athletes. ‘Many tourists come to Watamu for the triathlon,’ he said.

 

The manager said the event was launched six years ago. He said the government should ‘take advantage’ of the Indian Ocean, the white beaches and good roads for cycling events within Watamu and market them to tourists. ‘The government should come in and begin aggressive promotion of sports tourism,’  he said.

 

Davis said such events are not expensive to organise. Vincent Ochieng the organiser of the Wildman Triathlon said the event which is held next to Watamu Marine Park has diversified tourism attraction in the area and created an active and healthy holiday package. He called on the government to exploit other sports like wind surfing, canoe racing, fishing and water skiing that are popular among tourists.

 

‘Sports tourism can boost the industry to another level if it is tapped,’ he said.

 

Hoteliers Count Losses After Tourists Cancel Bookings Following Airport Fire
08 Aug 2013

By Kipchumba Kemei and Philip Mwakio; The East African Standard

 

Hundreds of tourists expected in lodges and camps in Masai Mara Game Reserve failed to arrive yesterday after the fire incident at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport that led to its closure.

 

 

Most of them, according to hotel managers, cancelled bookings and opted to head to other destinations after international flights were diverted to Mombasa, Kisumu and Eldoret international airports.

 

‘Tour companies that had booked their clients in most lodges and camps called to cancel bookings. Tourists had booked their lunch and 4pm game drives expeditions,’ said a manager of a prestigious lodge that had been fully booked since mid last month, who declined to be named.

 

He added: ‘It was expensive for tour operators and tiresome for tourists to land in Mombasa or Eldoret and then start the long journey to Mara. Visitors plan their journey and it is unlikely for them to extend their stay in the country to visit the reserve.’

 

The annual migration of wildebeests from Serengeti National Park in Tanzania to the reserve through the Mara River that kicks off tourism peak season started mid last month. Tourists who booked to watch the spectacular migration from Mara lodges opted to board other hotels in Narok town.

 

Fifty tourists who had booked in camps outside the park, its proprietor told The Standard, decided to stay in the neighbouring Serengeti National Park after their flight was diverted to Dar-es-salaam International Airport.

 

‘I received a call about the cancellation from the tour company that was handling their bookings in the morning. I was informed that the guests had been booked into Ngorongoro in Serengeti,’ said William Tome, the proprietor of an establishment in Talek area of the reserve.

 

A spot check along the Narok-Sekenani road that leads to the Mara established that they were few tour vehicles plying the route, with tour guides and drivers blaming it on the inferno at the JKIA.

 

PEAK SEASON

 

‘The incident is happening at an important month when tourists are visiting Kenya for August holidays. It is a boon to Tanzania and southern African countries,’ said Andrew Mungatana, who is the National Vice Chairman of Tourguides and drivers association.

 

Meanwhile, Somak Holidays, a leading tour operator in the United Kingdom, has chartered a 36-seater aircraft from Safari Link Airline to airlift 35 passengers who had arrived in Kenya Wednesday morning.

 


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