Hoteliers in Nakuru have started receiving bookings for the Safari Rally in June, as residents brace for increased business.
The county signed a pact last Sunday to keep the event in the World Rally Championship until 2026. This year it is scheduled between June 23 to 26.
Hylise Hotel General Manager, Geoffrey Mariga said they have already started receiving guests ahead of the global event.
"We have reservations from those involved in logistics ahead of the sport. As for the June event, our rooms are full to capacity," he revealed.
Mr Mariga also disclosed that they are having a busy calendar of events, especially from foreigners who have scheduled meetings in the lakeside town of Naivasha.
During last year’s event, hoteliers got a boost, with laid-off employees getting their jobs back.
“This is the best news I have heard in years…we expected the global event to happen but the signing of the pact has cemented everything,” Nakuru Country Tourism Association (NCTA) Chairman, David Mwangi said.
Mr Mwangi said despite Covid-19 restrictions, the hospitality industry raked in billions of shillings during last year’s event.
“With countries across the globe relaxing the pandemic limitations, we expect the Safari Rally event to be bigger and better. We are now well-equipped in terms of logistics and other hospitality protocols,” said the seasoned hotelier.
During the 2021 event, the number of foreign guests was capped at 10,000 and close to 100,000 local visitors.
Mr Mwangi expects a high number of international travellers which will translate to high accommodation and increased cash flow.
“We have hoteliers who have put up modern tents to accommodate a high number of rally fans. Last year, we had people spending nights in their cars. We don’t want a repeat of the same,” assured the hospitality boss.
He described rally lovers “as heavy spenders” with some even hiring choppers to fly to the rallying zones, terming a boon for the hotel sector.
Mr Njuguna Kamau a former route marshal during the yesteryear events, war over the moon with the latest development.
He termed the latest development a blessing in disguise, citing the trickle-down event from the ordinary Kenyan in the streets of Naivasha to the 'big boys' of the town.
“Local small businesses, restaurants, hawkers, fishmongers and even carwashing shops reaped big. I personally never missed eating fish every time I was in Naivasha for preparations,” said Mr Kamau.
He cited car washing service providers as among the biggest beneficiaries.