•Reduced disposable income by households is expected to affect holiday trends this year, the Kenya Association of Hotel Keepers and Caterers has said.
•The Kenya Tourism Federation has however expressed optimism of a good performance.
Hotel bookings at the Coast are expected to drop by at least 10 per cent this festive season compared to last year on tough economic times, a sector lobby group has projected.
Reduced disposable income by households is expected to affect holiday trends this year, the Kenya Association of Hotel Keepers and Caterers (KAHC) said yesterday, as domestic tourists, mainly from Nairobi, struggle to spend on festivities.
Majority of hotels have reported average bookings of 70-80 per cent in November going into December, compared to 90 per cent last year.
“Last year at this time some hotels were fully booked, but what we are seeing this time is that people are struggling. People have reduced spending on leisure something expected to affect bookings. The country’s economy is generally not doing very well,” KAHC executive officer Sam Ikwaye told the Star.
International tourists’ trends however remain positive on increased charter flights to the region, mainly from Europe, Ikwaye said.
Baobab Beach Resort yesterday reported 75 per cent to 80 per cent occupancy.
According to general manager Sylvester Mbandi, 60 per cent is international tourists with 40 per cent domestic.
“Expectation for December is above 90 per cent God willing,” Mbandi said.
The low domestic numbers are expected to hit entertainment spots and other small businesses which have recently suffered on reduced activities at the port city, which is feeling the heat of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) which has hived off a large portion of transport related business.
“Business has been low. People have been closing down. The only hope we have is the December holidays where we expect to make some profits,” said Jackline Mutahi, CEO and director of Fantacy Restaurant.
Twiga Tours yesterday noted a number of hotels have been forced to reduce room prices to attract bookings.
“Hotel rooms are cheaper compared to last year,” said Rahim Manji, director Twiga Tours.
He however noted good business in up country safari circuits, mainly in Nakuru, Laikipia and Amboseli.
“We are doing very well on safaris but this is because of our own aggressive sales and marketing campaigns,” he told the Star on phone.
A section of industry players have however expressed optimism of a good performance.
“People are complaining but we know they will be spending when the festivities begin,” Bonfire Adventures CEO Simon Kabu said.
The Tour and travel company has booked over 2,000 travelers to Mombasa between December 24 and 28, he said.
“SGR for December 24 is fully booked,” Kabu noted, adding that the company has organized 10 charter flights to the regions’ three key destinations of Mombasa, Malindi and Diani.
“A good number of people started booking as early as March this year and knowing Kenyans as last minute people, we are hoping for good numbers,” he said.
Kenya Tourism Federation (KTF) Chairman Mohammed Hersi said: “season is looking good and strong. We are however very concerned about the slow construction of airport road at Kibarani. It is quite a mess.”