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Tourism boom at Coast as SGR ferries visitors

Kenya Tourism Board chief executive Betty Radier. FILE PHOTO | NMG
Kenya Tourism Board chief executive Betty Radier. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Coast tourism is registering a rebound in earnings with Madaraka Express — the standard gauge railway train — having ferried 200,000 local and international travellers between Mombasa and Nairobi since inception.

Kenya Tourism Board chief executive Betty Radier said hotel bed occupancy was currently at 80 per cent compared to past years when June to August bookings were hardly 50 per cent.

She said the passenger rail service had seen emergence of a new segment of holidaymakers that range from domestic to international tourists.

The CEO said the wildebeest migration at the Maasai Mara National Reserve and increased direct chartered flights from Poland, Italy and Oman had also helped shore up the numbers.

“The feedback from hoteliers and Maasai Mara is that most hotels have reported full bookings till end of August,” said Dr Radier.

KTB said between January to April, Kenya experienced a 10.3 per cent increase with a record 292,160 international tourists visiting compared to 264,784 tourists in similar period 2016.

The wildebeest migration Instagram posts reached 50,000 in the past months, mainly uploaded by visiting international visitors.

Kenya’s most famous visitors include Alibaba boss Jack Ma and Italian fashion blogger Veronica Ferraro.