NAIROBI, Kenya (eTN) – Kenya retains its fame as the leading East African tourist destination in spite of election tensions once feared to scare away tourists.
The heightened political activities ahead of the December 27 general election spared the country’s highly developed tourism with high expectations to attract more foreign tourists than the past year.
Roving through the streets and tourist hot spots in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi, this eTN reporter found a good number of tourists enjoying their day and night life in big hotels with others on the way to visit Kenya’s tourist hot spots.
Maintaining its European lifestyle, the Kenyan capital has been a tourist meeting point, bringing together various tourists from different nationalities while on transit from other East African destinations like Tanzania and Uganda.
Life in the bustling business city of Nairobi remains exciting despite reports from other parts of Kenya, far from the city, claiming there were some 700 people killed in clashes between rivals from adversary political parties.
Tourists from the United State and United Kingdom who form a significant number of international arrivals to this African destination said they were happy to be in Kenya though their governments have issued frequent warnings over possible terrorist attacks or civil clashes during elections.
Big Kenyan hotels including Serena Hotel, Hilton, Intercontinental Hotel and a number of wildlife lodges retained their visitors growing records between September and December this year during political campaigns and tensions among the voters.
Kenya Tourist Board (KTB) managing director Ongong’a Achieng waved out the fear that Kenya would lose its tourist gains during and after the 2007 election and said tourist arrivals remained steady since October and the trend will hold until the end of this year.
Compared to 1.2 million tourist arrivals recorded last year, Kenya is expecting to record 1.3 tourists by end of this year, he said.
Unlike past years’ election run-ups when tourists skipped Kenya and diverted to other African destinations fearing violence between political campaigns, this time proved opposite. The country had shown a high level of calmness in its most parts and big towns including Nairobi where life is normal with no much talking about the pending election and hostile politics.
Kenya stands as the fast growing tourist destination in East Africa because of its high quality services offered to meet the demands of travelers.
Major airlines operating in Kenya including Kenya Airways, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic reduced their baggage charges to attract more holidaymakers during the last week of December for Christmas and New Year holidays.
Nairobi is the hub of tourism in East and Central Africa where most international airlines land and tourists visiting other neighboring countries make their connections. The Jomo Kenyatta International Airport has since then been a reliable transit point for tourists visiting Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Central African Republic and the Indian Ocean beach Islands.