Tourists flock to Maasai Mara despite poll jitters

Thursday August 17 2017

Wildebeests and Zebras cross a section of the drying Mara River at Maasai Mara game reserve on June 22, 2017. The reserve has come to life as wildebeest migration season starts, but survival of wild animals in the reserve is threatened by shrinking of rivers in the river and its main tributary Talek River putting the seventh wonder of the world under threat. PHOTO/GEORGE SAYAGIE

Wildebeests and Zebras cross a section of the Mara River at Maasai Mara Game Reserve on June 22, 2017. The reserve has had thriving business since July with hoteliers operating at full capacity despite the election frenzy. PHOTO | GEORGE SAYAGIE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By GEORGE SAYAGIE
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Despite the election jitters, business has been booming at the Maasai Mara Game Reserve, to the point of overwhelming camp lodges.

Since July, there has been an overflow of visitors, forcing managers of lodges and tented camps within the game reserve to seek extra accommodation outside.

August is often the peak period in the year with thousands of international tourists visiting to witness the wildebeest migration, termed as the seventh wonder of the world.

According to John Kiruthi, Manager of Kekeorok Lodge, tour operators and hoteliers in the park have reported full or near full capacity throughout the month of July into August.

"We have not witnessed any cancellations or challenges," he said, adding that fears over the polls were balanced by expectations that any electoral disputes could be resolved in the courts and not on the streets.

TRAVEL DESTINATION

Kenya emerged the third most preferred travel destination by the High Net-Worth Individuals (HNWI) in Africa last year, beating world famous destinations-Mauritius and Seychelles.

Narok County Governor Samuel Tunai said he was happy elections did not have a negative impact on the county’s tourism.

Mr Tunai called on the opposition to concede defeat, saying not doing so was creating tensions that could hurt the tourism sector.

Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala, recently cautioned that demonstrations over polls were painting a bad picture and could hurt the tourism industry, adding that tourism ratings had dropped in some areas.