BOOM

Tourism sector strong as high season kicks-in

Tourism CS Najib Balala has expressed confidence the sector will close the year stronger than last year.

In Summary
  • Hotels in North Coast Mombasa and South Coast (Diani)are projected to average 70-80 per cent over the next two months before some hitting 100 per cent  in December.
  • Tourism Research Institute(TRI) acting CEO David Gitonga says international arrivals have increased in the past three months with growth likely to be sustained to the end of the year.

Hotels at the Coast have started receiving early bookings for the December holidays in the wake of a rebounding tourism sector expected to finish the year stronger than 2018.

As the October-December high season kicks-in, both domestic and international visitors have started inquiring for hotel packages mainly in Mombasa, Diani and Watamu, with a spill-over to Malindi.

Kenya Association of Hotel Keepers and Caterers(KAHC) yesterday said facilities in the North Coast Mombasa and South Coast (Diani)are projected to average 70-80 per cent over the next two months before some hitting 100 per cent occupancy  in December.

“Despite global economical challenges which have affected travel patterns by international tourists, we are optimistic the high season will be good. It has just started but all is looking good,” said Sam Ikwaye, KAHC executive officer.

Nairobi resident Norah Chao who spoke to the Star said she prefers Mombasa and Diani for her local family holidays, with November being her most convenient month.

“Mombasa has other tourist sites such as Fort Jesus and Haller Park which are educative to my children. I also prefer going early before the busy December month,” said Chao.

Yesterday, Baobab Beach Resort reported 70 per cent booking for October and 80 per cent for November.

“The numbers are not bad for the next two months and December is looking even stronger. We project ninety to a hundred per cent, which means we are likely to be fully booked,” general manager Sylvester Mbandi said.

Travelers Beach Hotel has projected 70-80 per cent during this high season after a low month in September.

“We expect parents to start coming as early as October-November when schools break especially those planning to spend Christmas and New Year somewhere else," Sales and Marketing Manager Wafula Waswa said,“We expect business from families in December.”

He has however warned that the Standard Gauge Railway(SGR) cargo directive will affect businessmen and women travelling to Mombasa, a move likely to reduce hotel industry numbers by five-10 per cent in the 

“People used to come for business in Mombasa and spend in the hotels but with the directive, it has disrupted business,” Waswa said.

Sun Africa Group's Nyali Sun Africa Beach Hotel and Spa yesterday reported an average of 60 per cent occupancy. This is however expected to go above 70 per cent and 90-100 per cent by December, regional general manager Sanjeev Kumar said.

Tour and travel company Bonfire Adventures yesterday said it has arranged for charter flights to Mombasa for December, with the SGR bookings expected to be full by October 20.

“Some hotels in Mombasa we work with are already full. We have four-100 seater charter flights which are already full for December. Majority of our guests are going to Mombasa, Diani, Malindi and Watamu,” CEO Simon Kabu told the Star.

Tourism CS Najib Balala yesterday expressed confidence the sector will close the year stronger than last year, despite a slight drop in half year.

According to Tourism Research Institute(TRI), total number of international visitors in the first half 2019 was 921,090, a 0.7 per cent drop compared to 927,797 same period in 2018.

The numbers however rebounded in July and August, TRI acting CEO David Gitonga told the Star yesterday,closing at 206,340 and 213,591 receptively. This is up compared to 204,621 and 210,343 last year.

“The growth is a sign that as the season picks, destination Kenya is on a recovery path and the growth is likely to be sustained to the end of the year,” Gitonga said.

The ministry has projected a 10 per cent growth in total arrivals this year above the 2,025,206 reported in 2018, the highest ever number of arrivals in the country's tourism history.