Inside Politics

Early birds book room as skies re-open

Tuesday, July 28th, 2020 00:00 |
Kenya Airways plane. Photo/File

There is renewed hope in the hospitality industry after Kenya’s airspace was re-opened to international flights as it eyes a turnaround of fortunes amid Covid-19 pandemic.

Stakeholders of the sector operating within the Masai Mara game reserve say they are receiving bookings after five major airlines, amongst them British Airways, Qatar, Air France and KLM announced resumption of flights to Nairobi.

Yesterday, Emirates also confirmed it will resume its passenger services to Kenya from August 2, with flights between Nairobi and Dubai operating three times a week on Emirates’ Boeing 777-300ER.

“This will take the airline’s passenger network to 67 destinations in August, including seven points in Africa and five points in the Middle East,” said the airline in a statement from it’s local PR agency.

The flights coincides with the great migration from Serengeti in Tanzania to the world famous game reserve which heralds the annual tourism peak season.

Wildebeest fiesta

Some hoteliers and proprietors of properties within the expansive Maasai Mara said they have received bookings, mostly from the UK and France, most of whom are expected in the country for the annual wildebeests fiesta.

“We have today started receiving bookings from overseas tourists. It will be a boost to our business which was almost collapsing from months of lockdown because of Covid-19,” said James Pere, the manager of Keekorok Lodge which reopens next week after being cleared by the Health ministry.

Pere said onward bookings, which are being done by its agents, indicate that most visitors would be arriving at the unit beginning mid next month.

At Sarova Mara Game Camp, the facility’s management said tourists from UK and India would be their guests until October when wildebeests are expected to return to the Serengeti plains.

The development comes even as seven hotels in Masai Mara Game Reserve which have been given clearance by the Health Ministry to reopen after meeting all the required standards have slashed their rates by between 30 per cent and 45 percent to attract tourists.

Hoteliers say they have been forced to cut rates to keep them in business as they await the return of international flights next month.

Since they opened earlier this month, hotels have only been in business during weekends when local visitors go to watch the ongoing wildebeest migration from Serengeti.

Slow procedures

This even as other lodges and camps await testing of staff for Covid-19, and the much coveted clean bill of health so that they can start business, four months after closing.

Most proprietors are yet to be cleared amid claims the process is slow and expensive.

They want the ministry officials to hasten tests for them to be able to get a piece of the cake during the peak season.

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