Narok Governor Samuel Tunai and tourism stakeholders have welcomed the voting of Maasai Mara National Reserve as Africa’s leading national park at the World Travel Awards 2017.
Mr Tunai on Friday said the award would be a boost to the tourism industry.
The reserve and two lodges; Sarova Mara Game Camp and Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club in Olare Orok conservancy were voted as Africa’s best during an event in Kigali, Rwanda, on Tuesday evening.
The event was attended by travel and tourism players from across the world.
The Mara overcame fierce competition from Kruger National Park in South Africa, Serengeti National Park in Tanzania, Central Kalahari Game Reserve in Botswana, Kidepo Valley National Park from Uganda and Etosha National Park in Namibia.
Mr Tunai said the Mara success story has been achieved after the county government rolled out new regulations for the efficient management of the reserve to attract high-end tourists.
He said his government has perfected strategies on how to manage resources effectively while ensuring tourists get value for their money.
“When we inherited this resource from the now defunct Narok and Transmara County councils, it had a lot of challenges such as mismanagement, mushrooming of lodges, poor infrastructure, tax evasion and poaching, which for the last five years we have reversed,” Mr Tunai said in a phone interview.
“It is a great day for the Mara as our tourist attraction sites and lodges have scooped some prestigious awards on the African continent.
"It is a confirmation that travel agents from around the world have confidence in the Maasai Mara and Kenya as a tourist destination,” the elated Mr Tunai said.
The governor noted that the awards would boost tourism recovery marketing campaigns in international tourist source markets.
He said the awards are also likely to help woo back holidaymakers from Europe and the US.
“It is good news for the tourism sector in Narok. My county government will continue to conserve the reserve to help woo more holidaymakers from around the world,” he said.
Sarova Hotels Resorts and Game Lodges was crowned Africa’s leading hotel brand while Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club bagged the Africa’s leading hotel award.
The award came a day after the Sarova Mara Game Camp won two coveted environmental trophies from World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Kenya.
The hotel was pronounced winner of the Waste Water Management 2017 and the 1st runners up of the Waste Oil Management 2017.
The hotel’s manager Kioko Musyoki said the facility will continue to supplement best tourism practices in the Mara and give its best to guests and revellers.
“This is a very proud moment, not just for Sarova hotels but for the hotel and hospitality industry in the country. The double victory will strengthen Sarova hotels’ position,” Mr Kioko said.