Coast, parks hotels fully booked for Christmas, New Year

Numbers driven by domestic tourists mainly from Nairobi.

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

Hotel bookings in Kenya's key destinations over the Christmas-New Year period is at a peak with the Coast leading on bookings.

The numbers are driven by the domestic market that constitutes of up to 95 per cent of occupancy, mainly from Nairobi, Kisumu, Nakuru, Nanyuki and the Eastern region, according to the Kenya Coast Tourism Association.

Hotels in Mombasa and Diani are expected to be fully booked between December 23 and January 2, the association said yesterday, buoyed by the closure of schools.

“We are doing well. There is a boom driven by the domestic market as families, corporate groups and individuals travel down to the coast ,” KCTA chief executive Julius Owino said on telephone.

Lamu is at 85 per cent with occupancy at key tourist hotels expected to hit 100 per cent over the Christmas week and New Year, thanks to direct flights from Nairobi and Mombasa.

Malindi, renowned as an Italian town is however struggling as a result of low international arrivals  occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic which has presented a new Omicron variant.

Occupancy in Malindi is expected to be between 60-70 per cent during the festive season, Owino notes, with the destination benefiting from lack of rooms in Mombasa.

In Diani, leading facilities are reported to be fully booked.

We are fully booked for Christmas and New Year. Most of our guests are from Nairobi,” Sylvester Mbandi, general manager at the Baobab Beach Resort told the Star.

Baobab runs three luxurious properties– The Baobab, The Maridadi, and Kole Kole, in Diani, with all fully booked between December 23 and January 3.

Hotels and camps in parks are also recording good business as the festive season nears.

In the Mara, inquiries by The Star showed that key facilities are full booked for Christmas and New Year, with a few vacancies between December 20-23 and December 26-29.

“Christmas day and New Year is fully booked,” Sarova Mara Game Camp responded to the Star inquiry.

Amboseli Serena Safari Lodge is also fully booked over Christmas and New Year, with a few vacancies on the dates between.

In Naivasha, Sopa Resort reported to be fully booked from December 23 up to December 27.

Hotels in the Mount Kenya and Western tourist circuit are also expected to record good business, mainly from Nairobi residents travelling to destinations such as Kisumu and Nanyuki.

Good business is also being recorded at apartments and Airbnbs, according to KCTA.

International arrivals however remain low with local tour companies, which feed these hotels,reporting high numbers of cancellations.

We have had massive cancellations mainly from the international markets owing to the latest development, the Omicron variant that is. It has affected traveling," tours and travel firm-Twiga Tours CEO Minaz Manji told The Star.

The requirement that people are fully vaccinated has also seen some in the domestic market hold on travel plans, Manji added, "It is a tricky situation."