SA Xenophobic attacks divert most tourists to Kenyan sites
Kenya is benefitting from the recent xenophobic attacks in South Africa as majority of tourists who were destined for holidays in the rainbow nation are now visiting the country.
Tour operators say the recurrent violence targeting non-South Africans has dented its image, forcing potential visitors to stay away or visit alternative African countries.
“Many tourists who had booked tours in Cape Town and Kruger National Park have cancelled and are now visiting the Kenyan Coast and the Masai Mara,” says Lily Waddington, proprietor of UK based, Magical Travel Ltd.
Also benefitting from the chaos, which has claimed more than a dozen migrants, majority of them from Nigeria, is Tanzania mainland, Zanzibar and Pemba islands.
Lily says her firm is among others busy re-booking tourists to destinations they consider safe but where they would get products similar to those offered by South Africa.
The majority of Magical Travel clients are from Netherlands who frequent South Magical Travel Africa to sample its products, to visit relatives and tour Botswana for wildlife safaris.
“Kenya has beautiful beaches such as those in South Africa. The Mara is one of the best safari destinations globally,” she says.
Patrick Wanjohi of Out of Africa Eco Lodges and Travel Company Ltd says his firm has booked 650 guests who would have travelled to Kruger National Park and Botswana in the Mara.
Armed poachers freely hunting elephants for ivory in Botswana has also forced tourists to avoid its parks and reserves.
“They now prefer either Mara or Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. In Botswana, they are not assured of their security, making insurance companies that insure them to raise premiums for those intending to visit that country and now SA because of violence,” he said.
Wanjohi spoke as hoteliers in Masai Mara Game Reserve say they are still busy, a month after the annual peak season petered out.
“Bookings are good. For the first time in many years, we are receiving many visitors during the off season,” said Steve Keriga, assistant manager at Fairmont Mara Safari Club.
Around this time of the year, most lodges and camps would have either sent their non-core staff on unpaid leave or operate below capacity until the December to February high season when tourists from Europe escape harsh winters.