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SGR, charter flights draw more tourists to national parks ahead of high season

Kenya Association of Tour Operators (Kato) Tsavo East and West National Parks and Amboseli branch chairman Willie Mwadilo. FILE PHOTO | NMG
Kenya Association of Tour Operators (Kato) Tsavo East and West National Parks and Amboseli branch chairman Willie Mwadilo. National parks and game reserves are experiencing a rise in visitor numbers ahead of the high season next month. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

National parks and game reserves are experiencing a rise in visitor numbers ahead of the high season next month.

Kenya Association of Tour Operators (Kato) Tsavo East and West National Parks and Amboseli branch chairman Willie Mwadilo, said lodges and tented camps were busy due to rise in visitor numbers.

He added that lodges and camps in Tsavo East and West National Parks and Amboseli National Park are enjoying occupancy of between 60 per cent and 70 per cent up from 30 per cent and 50 per cent last month.

Mr Mwadilo, who is also the general manager of Sarova Salt Lick Game Lodge and Sarova Taita Hills Game Lodge, said guest numbers are expected to jump to 80 per cent next month.

“Tourists from Poland and Germany are flocking to the parks thanks to charter flights operated by TUI Poland to Mombasa ,” he said.

On the other hand, Mr Mwadilo attributed the rise in visitors in the lodges and camps in Tsavo to the Madaraka Express trains.

“Both local and international tourists from Nairobi and Mombasa nowadays travel by train to Voi and then head to the national parks for game drives,” he added.

Heritage Hotels chief executive officer Mohamed Hersi, said more international wildlife enthusiasts are expected to flock to the Mara next month to watch the wildebeest migration spectacle.

He said wildlife lovers from the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Canada, Australia, Japan, China and other parts of the world are set to tour the Mara to view the biggest wildebeest migration in the world.

Mr Hersi said the Mara Intrepids and Mara Explorer camps are expected to enjoy occupancy of between 70 per cent and 80 per cent from July up from the current 50 per cent.

Ashnil Hotels managing director Rajan Bhandari, said the Ashnil Mara Camp will be busy from next month following a surge in bookings for the summer season.

“We have strong sales for the summer season as international tourists are visiting the country for game viewing in the national parks,” he said.

Game drives

Mr Bhandari added that apart from the Mara, he expects wildlife enthusiasts to tour Tsavo East National Park and Buffalo Springs Game Reserve for game drives.

Lofty Tours director Monika Solanki said summer bookings from the German market were on upward trend as the tourists are visiting the country for safari.

“Between July and August, we are expecting more tourists to visit the Mara, Tsavo East and West National Parks and Amboseli National Park for game viewing,” she added.

It comes after some international airlines from Europe are increasing flights to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi and Moi International Airport in Mombasa in July due to an upsurge in summer bookings.

Airlines which have already announced flights increase to Nairobi for the summer season are Lufthansa Group and Swiss International Air Lines.

On the other hand, Turkish Airlines and Condor are set to increase flights to Mombasa in July bolstered by summer bookings.

On Saturday, Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala said international bookings were on the rise following aggressive marketing by the Ministry of Tourism and the Kenya Tourism Board in overseas markets.

Mr Balala added that in the last two financial years, the government had spent Sh2 billion on marketing the destination in both traditional and emerging markets.

“One of the European airlines has registered 90 per cent flight bookings to Kenya for the summer season,” he said.

He also attributed the jump in international bookings to improved security in the country and infrastructure projects such as the Sh327 billion standard gauge railway.

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