Hotels in Nakuru are fully booked ahead of the June Safari Rally in Kenya

BY MACHARIA MWANGI

Hoteliers in Kenya‘s Nakuru City have started taking bookings for June’s Safari Rally as residents brace for an uptick in business.

The county signed a pact last Sunday to keep the event in the World Rally Championship through 2026. This year it will take place between June 23rd and 26th.

Geoffrey Mariga, General Manager of Hylise Hotel, said they started welcoming guests ahead of the global event.

“We have reservations about the sport from the logisticians. As for the June event, our rooms are packed to the brim,” he revealed.

Mr. Mariga also revealed that they have a busy calendar of events, particularly 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.

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“This is the best news I’ve heard in years… we expected the global event to happen, but the signing of the pact cemented everything,” said David Mwangi, chairman of the Nakuru Country Tourism Association (NCTA).

Mr Mwangi said despite Covid-19 restrictions, the hospitality industry took in billions of shillings during last year’s event.

“As countries around the world ease pandemic restrictions, we expect the safari rally to get bigger and better. We are now well prepared in terms of logistics and other hospitality protocols,” said the veteran hotelier.

During the 2021 event, the number of foreign guests has been limited to 10,000 and nearly 100,000 domestic visitors.

Mr Mwangi expects a large number of international travelers which will result in high accommodation and increased cash flow.

“We have hoteliers who have set up modern tents to accommodate many rally fans. Last year we had people spending nights in their cars. We don’t want the same thing to happen again,” assured the hospitality boss.

He described rally lovers “as greedy for money,” with some even hiring helicopters to fly to rally zones, a boon to the hotel industry.

Mr. Njuguna Kamau, a former route marshal during past events, was overjoyed with the latest development.

He called the recent development a blessing in disguise, citing the event’s percolation from the ordinary Kenyan on the streets of Naivasha to the city’s “big boys”.

“Local small businesses, restaurants, street vendors, fishmongers and even car washes have reaped great harvests. Personally, I have never failed to eat fish every time I have been to Naivasha to prepare,” said Mr. Kamau.

He named car wash service providers as one of the biggest beneficiaries.

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