Hotel industry banks on SGR to enhance growth

Business Daily Kenya:  The launch of Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) two weeks ago has proven to be timely for the travel industry. Affordabl...

Business Daily Kenya: 

SGR train. Photo/File

The launch of Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) two weeks ago has proven to be timely for the travel industry.

Affordable ticket prices for travelling between Nairobi and Mombasa is turning out to be godsend for hotels and travel companies which are now persuading foreign and domestic tourists with special packages to get out and experience some of the surrounding Mombasa attractions.

Tickets for a ride in the SGR from Nairobi to Momabas which now costs not more than Sh700 (standard class passenger) and Sh3, 000 (first class passenger) has seen an increase in the number of travellers who ply between the two cities, while at the same time leaving bus companies operating on the same route with unpleasant aftertaste in the mouth.

International tourists have also been caught in the thrill among those hopping into SGR trains from Nairobi to the Coastal towns via Mombasa.

A search into different hotels’ websites shows nearly all hotels have revised rates on their menu in anticipation of the boom.

The high-end hotels in Mombasa and its environs are available for as low as Sh20, 000, for a two day and three night’s full board for visitors with SGR tickets and transfers. While the mid-scale hotels packages also offered in the range of Sh15,100 and Sh17,600 for holders of SGR tickets for a full board booking.

All the hotels have almost similar validity periods for different packages, running through the month of June to the end of the year. The coming months are expected to have large influx of both domestic and foreign tourists as high season kicks in while school breaks are also around the corner.

Tourist numbers

“Young international tourists from emerging markets places like Latvia, Colombia, and South Africa are all coming to Mombasa. All of them are pleasantly surprised,” commented Mohammed Hersi, Chairman of Kenya Coast Tourism Association, who believes the inflow could greatly boost tourist numbers that have been rising steadily over the last few months.

Available figures by Kenya Tourism Board (KTB), indicate that arrivals through Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) grew by 16.2 per cent last year to 782,013, against 672,789 visitors a year earlier.

Domestic tourism which has been on a steady growth with bed night’s occupancy of 47 per cent from 41 per cent as of last year, is seen to be the biggest beneficiary brought by SGR.

And if SGR fares are sustained, as it is widely expected, Hersi says bus companies and airlines will be left with no choice but to revise their fares to cope with competition.

“In the long run this is going to help the local economy. For airlines, Madaraka Express is now eating your lunch, don’t say you were never warned.

The bad news is that Madaraka Express appetite can only get bigger. I believe there is enough for everyone as long as you wake up and smell the coffee,” he said.

Hersi noted that Nairobi-Mombasa route is one of the most profitable routes  for airlines. However, Madaraka Express is now laying claim to the market share.

“If Madaraka Express is charging Sh3,000 ($30) for a first class ticket why would any sensible person take a flight and pay Sh30,000 + ($300) unless you want to travel in less than two hours?” he posed.

Kenya has diverse attractions to offer to visitors.  It is only a few countries around the world where one can relax on pristine sandy beaches and be able to see wildlife in all forms within a short distance.  The country has 60 national parks and reserves all with abundant wildlife.

The post Hotel industry banks on SGR to enhance growth appeared first on Mediamax Network Limited.

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