Coronavirus: Masai Mara hotels begin to feel pinch

By Peter Leshan
Friday, February 21st, 2020

Hotels in Masai Mara which depend on Chinese tourists, especially during low seasons, have closed as coronavirus scare continues to take its toll on the hotel and travel sectors.

Temporary facilities which exclusively serve Chinese tourists, three lodges and several tented camps which entirely depend on arrivals from the Asian country have closed, a spot check by Business Hub and interviews with stakeholders established yesterday.

Most tour operators have also been affected by the spread of the virus and have stopped operations, according to some of the players in the industry.

An exclusive Chinese-owned lodge with more than 300 bed capacity near Sekenani Gate had less than 10 visitors while another one inside the park closed a week ago.

Four other tented camps owned by Chinese or which depend on China and other countries in East Asia inside and outside the park have closed until the spread of the disease is contained.

“The management has decided that the hotel should close until further notice. May be until the disease is contained. We have already sent our staff on leave,” said a manager through an interpreter who declined to be named because he was not authorised to speak on behalf of the company whose head office for Kenyan and Tanzanian operations is in Kilimani area, Nairobi.

Theophilus Shumwe, the manager of Tipilikwani Camp said since the coronavirus outbreak, all hotels in the Mara have lost more than 70 per cent in business, adding that unlike those from Europe and US who only visit between June and September peak season and during winter, Chinese and other tourists from East Asia visit the park throughout the year.

“We are doing badly. If the disease would not have been contained by April, the peak season would be severely affected,” he added.

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