Easter travels decline marginally on a tighter economy

This year Easter holiday bookings are at about 90 per cent.

In Summary

• KATA (Kenya Association of Travel Agents) says bookings are currently at 90 per cent compared to 100 per cent last year

• The Safari circuit including the Maasai Mara is the least favourable destination for the Easter holiday

Lamu residents and tourists.
Lamu residents and tourists.
Image: FILE

The tough economy may have driven locals to cut down on domestic travel over the Easter holiday, industry players have said. 

The Kenya Association of Travel Agents chief executive Nicarno Sabula said uptake of holiday packages for the April break is slightly lower for both travel and hotel bookings compared to the same period last year.

“Generally, the numbers this year are looking a bit depressed. We are not seeing as much interest but we are still optimistic we will see last minute bookings ahead of the long weekend,” he said.

Sabula said, while most hotels and travel options were sold out over the same period last year, this year Easter holiday bookings are at about 90 per cent.

Kenya Association of Hotel Keepers and Caterers chief executive Mike Macharia told the Star, though it was too early to tell the industry’s performance, the most favourable destination for domestic tourists was the coastal region including Mombasa, Malindi, Watamu and Lamu.

“There is also a lot of tourist traffic going up to Naivasha, Nakuru and Kisumu. The Safari circuit isn’t as popular with the locals,” he said.

Sabula said the Safari circuit needs to be publicised more so that locals can take advantage, especially over the low season.

Bonfire Adventures chief executive Simon Kabu said although the firm was very busy handling Kenyans’ last-minute holiday bookings, not all destination pockets were fully booked, especially in the coast.

“The bookings are a bit slow compared to last year,” he said.

Kabu added that the slowdown could also be attributed to the fact that more Kenyans were opting for Dubai as a holiday destination.

“You find some of the deals for Dubai we have are cheaper than it costs to stay at some hotels at the coast,” he said.

He said the firm is yet to fill up three planes in its “2019 Jaza Ndege Coast Easter 4 Days Package”.

In a move to capitalize on last-minute travel, Kenya Airways has revised its schedule and increased capacity on the Kisumu and Mombasa routes.

 “The increased capacity will give our customers greater choice and flexibility in planning their travel during this peak travel period,” Kenya Airways Group MD and CEO, Sebastian Mikosz.  

The airline will upgrade a total of six flights to operate the Boeing 787 Dreamliner on the Nairobi-Mombasa route and an additional two flights to Kisumu.  

The Standard Gauge Railway also plans to introduce five extra coaches for an unspecified period over the Easter holiday.

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