RECOVERY PLAN

Hotels, airlines eye Nairobi December holidayers

Most of the hotels are selling beach and safari holiday destinations.

In Summary

•Nairobi remains a key market for domestic tourism accounting for up to 90 per cent of local travelers.

•Both the government and private sector are counting on the domestic market to help in recovery as Covid-19 continues to hurt international travel.

Domestic tourists play in a pool at a Mombasa hotel/FILE
Domestic tourists play in a pool at a Mombasa hotel/FILE

Tourism and travel industry players are keen to tap into the Nairobi market as domestic tourists remain the key driver of post Covid-19 recovery.

This, as the peak December-New Year holidays nears with the majority of hotels expecting to reap from the local market as Covid-19 remains a challenge on global travel, where countries have begun locking down in the second corona wave.

At least 45 exhibitors (hotels and airlines) pitched tent at this year's Sarit Centre Expo'Getaway 2020 Tourism Fair', CEO Jason Zeelie said yesterday, a three-day event that attracted between 10,000 and 15,000 people.

The whole idea is to enable industry players to attract business. This is the first event since March when Covid hit us and we are hoping things will open up,” Zeelie said.

While international arrivals remain low with recovery expected later next year, the private sector, like government, is counting on the domestic market to help tourism recover.

Nairobi remains a key market for domestic tourism, hotels, and airlines at the expo said , as facilities reported a slow but promising recovery of the industry after the ease of inter-county movement and resumption of domestic flights in July.

Hotels that spoke to the Star reported occupancy of between 20 per cent and 60 per cent, with a few noting up to 90 per cent over weekends, purely domestic tourists with a huge number coming from Nairobi.

Most of the hotels are selling beach and safari holiday destinations.

Jacaranda Hotels which runs the Indian Ocean Beach Resort (Diani) yesterday reported occupancy of 60 per cent on average.

“We are seeing a lot of leisure travelers from Nairobi, 90 per cent of our occupancy, a market we want to continue tapping. We should encourage local tourism,” Alcott Ouko, sales coordinator at the resort told the Star.

She noted international inquiries have also started mainly from China.

The group which also runs the Jacaranda Nairobi Hotel has also recorded increased bookings for meetings mainly by NGOs, Banqueting Coordinator Susan Mburu said.

Baobab Beach Resort which runs three luxurious properties–The Baobab, The Maridadi, and Kole Kole, has reported an average occupancy rate of 80 per cent for October.

“We want to tell Kenyans people are traveling so let's support recovery of our tourism sector,” said Kennedy Uduny, marketing executive-Baobab.

Leopard Beach Resort, Diani, has reported occupancy of between 30-40 per cent this month, as it counts on the December holidays to boost its business.

“We are purely doing domestic. We are hoping December will bring out people with Nairobi being a key market source,” said Misbah Gilani, head of sales and marketing, Leopard, Nairobi office.

The facility, she says, has cut accommodation prices by 40 per cent for the domestic market.

It has also partnered with Safarilink and Skyward Express(airlines) in selling its Diani beach destination.

On travel, Pollman's Tours and Safaris has unveiled a domestic campaign dubbed 'Tembea Kenya na Pollmans' to tap into the domestic market as international tourists remain low.

The company is renowned for linking hotels and safari destinations in Kenya to major international markets.

“The campaign is one month old and we want to offer Kenyans packages that will see them travel to different destinations and support recovery of the tourism sector,” said Lucy Mburu, the campaigns' lead marketer.

On beach destinations, Diani is the most selling at the moment, Skyward Express reservations manager, Linet Oketch, told the Star.

The airline has partnered with at least 10 hotels in each destination;Ukunda (Diani), Mombasa, and Lamu where it flies to, in the promotion of domestic tourism. It also flies to Lodwar and Eldoret.

In May, President Uhuru Kenyatta called on Kenyans to take their holidays locally for the next year, as the country ponders post Covid-19 comeback.

"We must visit our hotels and parks, and every corner of our country. Let us spend our money amongst our own people so that they can keep their jobs and feed their families," President Uhuru urged Kenyans during his Labour Day address.

Last year, domestic tourism accounted for 4.9 million bed-nights, contributing to the 3.9 per cent jump in tourism earnings from Sh157.4 billion in 2018 to Sh163.6 billion, the 2020 Economic Survey shows.