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Poll fears cut hotel bed occupancy

The annual wildebeest migration in the Maasai Mara is expected to drive occupancy. FILE PHOTO | NMG
The annual wildebeest migration in the Maasai Mara is expected to drive occupancy. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Hotel bed occupancy at the Coast was hit by fears over the outcome of the Tuesday’s presidential vote and hoteliers expect the relative peace to boost business during the current high season.

Most hotels at the Coast had a bed occupancy of between 40 per cent and 50 per cent, which is lower than the normal 60 per cent and 70 per cent during the high season that starts in mid-July and ends in March.

But the return of normalcy after the Tuesday poll and a chance of seeing the annual wildebeest migration in the Maasai Mara is expected to drive occupancy.

Kenya Association of Hotelkeepers and Caterers (KAHC) Coast branch executive officer Sam Ikwaye said hotels are expected to receive more holidaymakers in September due to the calm enjoyed in the region.

“We are glad that all the coastal resort towns have been experiencing peace and tranquility during and after the General Election,” he said.

Tourist numbers tend to drop in days to the elections, which are often tense moments following fears over a repeat of post-election violence in 2008, when 1,200 people were killed.

Tour operators and hoteliers who reported near full capacity in June and July witnessed reduced bookings in days to the August 8 poll.

“In July, we enjoyed 75 per cent occupancy, but guest numbers dropped during the elections. We expect a rise in bookings between now and September,” Sarova Whitesands Beach Resort general manager Siddharth Sathe, said.

Diani Reef Beach Resort and Spa managing director Bobby Kamani, said international tourist bookings were on the rise bolstered by the calm at the South Coast.

He said the hotel currently has 40 per cent occupancy and expects guest numbers to rise between 50 per cent and 70 per cent from next month.

“We are experiencing an increase in bookings from the United States, the United Kingdom, China, Germany and India from September onwards,” he said. Maasai Mara is benefiting from safari-lovers, hoping to see wildebeest that run into waiting hungry crocodiles as they cross the Mara river.

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