Tourism arrivals defy poll fears to cross 100,000 mark after long lull (Kenya)

By Mathias Ringa | Business Daily, Kenya October 9, 2017

Tourist arrivals crossed the 100,000 mark in July for the first time in four years, defying the gloom that was expected with the electioneering period ahead of the August 8 poll.

Official data shows 105,241 foreigners landed at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport and the Moi International Airport, reflecting a 17.5 per cent rise over a similar period last year.

The last time that July visitor numbers were higher was in 2013 when 123,812 foreigners flew into Kenya.

“Since July, large numbers of tourists have been flocking to the Mara to catch a glimpse of the wildebeest migration spectacle. Even now, lodge and camps in the Mara are busy,” said Kenya Tourism Board chairman Mr Jimi Kariuki.

At the Coast, hotels are enjoying occupancy of up to 70 per cent.

Diani Reef Beach Resort and Spa managing director Bobby Kamani, said tourist bookings for November and December are set to rise if the repeat presidential poll could be conducted peacefully.

“Although we are heading for the repeat presidential poll, we have not been affected by booking cancellations as the South Coast has remained peaceful,” he added.

The hotel in September had an occupancy of 65 per cent, and Mr Kamani reckoned the bookings would rise between November and December on the back of Europe and Asia tourists.

The growth is welcome news to hoteliers who had been forced to cut jobs, slash pay and close shop following the crippling effects of several travel alerts issued in 2014 after a spate of terrorist attacks on holiday getaway towns.

Kenya Airways chief executive, Sebastian Mikosz said that international passenger numbers were unaffected around the August 8 General Election.

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