The hospitality industry in Kisumu and Siaya counties is preparing to reap big from former US President Barack Obama’s visit.
Obama is expected in Kenya next Monday. A spot check in some hotels revealed record bookings ahead of the visit.
Western Kenya Hospitality Leaders’ Association chairman Robinson Anyal said top hotels including Acacia, Imperial and Sovereign are 100 percent booked.
“With the calibre of guests, we expect high-end hotels to be fully booked. At Impala Eco-Lodge, we are currently at 70 per cent,” he said.
Anyal, who is also the Eco-Lodge manager, added they are expecting hotels which are currently 50 per cent booked to hit 90 per cent by Sunday.
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Other top hotels are Le-Savanna, St John’s Manor, Kisumu Hotel and Grand Royal City.
During the one-day visit, Obama will hold talks with President Uhuru Kenyatta at State House, Nairobi, before heading to his ancestral home of Kogelo, Siaya, to visit his relatives.
In Kisumu, Obama is expected to take only 10 minutes upon landing at the airport where Governor Anyang Nyong’o will receive him.
At Kogelo, he will preside over the inaugurations of Sauti Kuu Sports and Vocational Centre inspired and managed by his half-sister Auma Obama.
He will then proceed to South Africa where he will deliver the annual Nelson Mandela Foundation lecture the next day.
He will not be accompanied by members of his family.
When he visited Kenya in 2015, Obama said he would come back when the trappings of power had relaxed.
This will be the first visit to Kenya after he left office on January 20 last year. He has visited Kenya three other times in 1987, 1992 and the high profile visit in 2015 when serving his second term.
According to sources familiar with the visit, Obama is also likely to meet opposition leaders led by Raila Odinga.
He is coming to Kenya when the government has taken heed to issues he raised during his address to Kenyans from Kasarani Stadium.
Players in the industry such as hotels and tour companies are working round the clock to meet the high demand.
Kisumu enjoys the lion’s share of hospitality infrastructure in the region. According to county Tourism executive Achie Alai, the improved infrastructure and increased marketing had given counties in Western region to fully exploit available opportunities.