American Tourists Flock Kenyan Hotels As Obama Visits ‘Home’
Most hotels in Masai Mara Game Reserve are recording heavy bookings as the annual tourism peak season takes off and US President Obama arrives in Kenya.
Hoteliers said virtually all lodges and camps will be fully booked in three weeks when about 1.8 million wildebeest would be crossing the Mara River within the Mara Triangle, adding that most visitors will be from UK and US.
“We have in the last three weeks been hosting groups of American businessmen and women who came ahead of their president for the Global Entrepreneurship Summit. We expect those who didn’t come early to visit after the summit,” said Munene Kamau, manager Fairmont Mara Safari Club.
A media team comprising Kenya Tourism Board officials, local and foreign travel journalists had to cut short a trip to the Mara on Tuesday as hotels became reluctant to offer discounted rates and media-shy and security-conscious as visitors arrived.
Munene said all lodges and exclusive tented camps are recording above 85 per cent bookings, adding that between the first weeks of August to mid-September, occupancy could hit over 100 per cent.
In the last three weeks, there has been tight security from foreign personnel in all lodges and camps the, the hoteliers added. About 160, 000 wildebeests have already crossed from Serengeti plains in Tanzania to the park through the Sand River.
An estimated two million yet to cross the crocodile infested Mara River are now moving from North to West Serengeti before attempting the cross.
The reserve is teeming with hungry carnivores waiting to feast on the wildebeest. Though Obama’s programme is still kept a secret, hoteliers believe he will spend a night in the world-famed reserve before departing the country.
Among the lodges that have been hosting US tourists are Mahali Mzuri, an exclusive tented camp owned by Sir Richard Brandson, the proprietor of Virgin Atlantic and who has been in the country for the last three weeks.
Others are Mara Serena Lodge, Sarova Mara Game Camp, Keekorok Lodge, Mara Serera Lodge, Basecamp Lodge where Obama spent a night when he visited the country in 2006.
Also cashing in are Fairmont Mara Safari Club, Kichwa Tembo Tented Camp, Governors Camp, Porini Camp, Mara Intrepids and Mara Explorer Camps, Cottar Camp and Mpata Club.
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