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Hotels in Kenya record full bookings

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 9 – Two leading hotel industry players are reporting good bed occupancy rates over the just ended holiday season.

Fairmont Group Director of Sales and Marketing Sean Walwyn told Capital Business that occupancy at the chain averaged at between 50 and 100 percent during the season.

“It is difficult to compare year on year like in previous years because some rooms were still under renovation, so we can never have done the same numbers as we had done in the previous years. But we are happy with what we saw,” he said.

Mr Walwyn observed that a lot of the tourists were domestic as a result of good reviews from people who had already sampled the new product the chain of hotels was offering.

Fairmont has been undergoing major renovations in the Fairmont Mara, Mt Kenya and Norfolk.

Renovations at the Mara Fairmont were completed mid last year but refurbishments at the other two hotels are still ongoing.

At the Sarova Group of hotels, Revenue Manager Martin Mwangi said that some of the chain’s hotels like Sarova Whitesands recorded close to 100 percent occupancy over the holiday period, outdoing 2007 statistics.

Mr Mwangi is predicting that returns for Sarova for the first quarter of 2009 would be higher than last year, while both earnings and bed occupancy should be average due to the current global credit crunch.

“Compared to last year, the tourism sector will most probably experience growth because the first half of last year was wasted due to the post election violence that rocked the country,” the manager intimated.

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However Mr Walwyn is predicting a tough six months for the industry in the first half of this year, because a major recovery of the industry was dependent on how the global economic recession played out.

“It would have been fair to expect a major recovery in 2009 had we not seen the sudden economic meltdown that we are seeing.  And I think every day that goes by we are discovering something new about this situation,” he noted.

“It will highly depend on the results of all these stimulus packages that governments all over the world are putting into place,” he added.

Mr Walwyn revealed that the current booking window for leisure holidays was pretty low, but corporate business could save the day.

In the next two weeks, Fairmont will be welcoming a new Vice President to head the East African and Indian chain of the hotels.

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