Saturday, August 20, 2022

Kenya

It’s a windfall for home owners, hotels in Vasha as rally drivers vroom

Home owners, hotels and other businesses in Naivasha are enjoying good tidings from the windfall that has come with the Safari Rally.

The organisers of the World Rally Championships (WRC) Safari Rally are expected to spend Sh5 billion on the event, with businesses set to reap bigger as drivers and more fans flock Naivasha, in  Nakuru County.

The international event has become a big boost to the tourism sector, said Mr Njuguna Kamau, a director at the East African Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

“We expect at least Sh5 billion to be spent here at the end of the four-day event,” he said.

Already,  most hotels have reported 100 per cent bookings . According to the Nakuru Tourism Association boss David Mwangi, international visitors booked the facilities more than a month ago. 

Photo credit: Cheboite Kigen | Nation Media Group

“Most of our three and four-star hotels in Naivasha, along the main sections of the rallying circuit in Elementaita and Maai Mahiu, are fully booked ,” he said.

“This is a huge boost to tourism facilities both in Nakuru City and Naivasha. This is what our hospitality sector needed,”added Mr Mwangi.

Visitors started trooping to Naivasha early this week in preparation for the championships.

At least 11,000 people, a majority of them spectators from Kenya and across the world are expected to attend the event, Mr Mwangi said.

The economic boom comes after tough times in the hospitality sector due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

WRC Safari Rally

Fans enjoy the 2022 World Rally Championship Safari Rally experience at Soysambu Spectators Stage in Nakuru County on June 25, 2022.

Photo credit: Cheboite Kigen | Nation Media Group

The foreign drivers and their back-up teams and families come from Europe, Asia,  Africa and the Americas.

Some of the hotels that were fully booked yesterday are Enashipai Resort and Spa, Sawela Lodge, Naivasha Kongoni Lodge, Lake Naivasha Resort and Lake Naivasha Panorama Park.

Besides the hotels, petroleum dealers, food and beverages vendors, entertainment spots and hawkers  are also cashing in.

For home owners, those earning big are those with palatial residences. They have set up tents at their residences to host visitors as businesspeople become ingenious to make money.

For Mercy Rahab, she has turned her home into an Airbnb of sorts. The home is located on a rocky ground some three kilometres from Naivasha town, giving lodgers a bird’s eye view of Lake Naivasha.

The family further owns a middle-level, 81-bed capacity hotel in Naivasha town. Rahab said it was “overbooked” during the last event, forcing them to look for new ways of cashing in from fans.

“Last year was like a tutorial class for us. We learnt a lot after failing to accommodate the high number of visitors trooping to Naivasha town,” said the businesswoman.

WRC Safari Rally

Fans watch the 2022 World Rally Championship Safari Rally at Soysambu Spectators Stage in Nakuru County on June 25, 2022.

Photo credit: Cheboite Kigen | Nation Media Group

Those who will spend the night inside the tents at their well-guarded home will part with Sh5,000 (negotiable) for  bed and breakfast.

The family has erected 40 tents, hoping to double the number if clients increase. “We are well-prepared for any eventuality,” said Rahab.

A live band will entertain the guests, as hospitality players in Naivasha adopt innovative ways of attracting clientele .

Similarly, land owners with open spaces in Naivasha, are renting them out.

A drive along Moi South Lake Road shows the changing fortunes of the land owners. The location has become a beehive of activity.

A prime land owner who sought anonymity said he had hired out his ground for Sh2 million a day for four days, translating to Sh8 million for the days that the revered drivers will be vrooming in the wild.

“With no overhead cost…we can all agree it is good business. Some have been questioning the rationale of having an open prime property but I think their concerns have now been answered,” said the owner with a chuckle.

He said the 20 acres had been booked for the famous Korogo Festival – part of the WRC accredited entertainment joint – with the neighbouring land owners benefiting from the spill over.

Next to the land is another one, which had been cleared to serve as a parking space for vehicles of those attending the Korogo Festival.

“It’s a rosy story for us. The hoteliers have little to complain about as most of the facilities have registered full bookings. In fact the number is high compared to last year,” said Mr Mwangi.

He confirmed that those businesses operating under Airbnb’s have also recorded high number of visitors, unlike in the past.

“The facilities are offering job opportunities to trained graduates, especially those in the hospitality industry and with the event happening during the high season, we expect the good tidings to continue,” said Mr Mwangi

He, however, cautioned hoteliers against compromising standards, saying officials of the motosport event were keen on details.

“Those given the task of hosting local and international visitors should ensure they stick to the required standards as they try to maximise on profits. As a group, we shall be monitoring them,” said Mr Mwangi.

Meanwhile, Naivasha town remains a beehive of activity, with tens of police officers deployed to provide security and man traffic. 

To avoid the gridlock witnessed last year, the rally organisers have created link routes that will ensure the cars will not drive through Naivasha town.

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