By Ben Leshau
Narok county government lost Sh2.25 Billion tourism revenue at the World-famous Maasai Mara Game reserve last year due to the ban on international flights at the height of the Cvid-19 pandemic.
Governor Samuel Tunai who is also the Tourism Committee Chair at the Council of Governors said the loss was occasioned by an international travel advisory issued by many countries in the world to combat the spread of the virus.
“The county usually get annual revenue of Sh 2.5 Billion from the Maasai Mara and we lost about 90 percent of the collection as no visitors visited the game reserve,” he said.
At the same time, Tunai decried that 80 percent of Easter holiday hotel bookings at the game reserve were that have been canceled after the government restricted movement in five counties to curb the spread of Covid-19.
“During this season of the third wave, already 80 percent of room bookings have been canceled meaning most hotels will be forced to lay off a number of their employees,” he observed.
He lamented that the Easter season, was one of the peak seasons at the Mara Mara as many foreigners and locals prefer celebrating the long holiday at the Mara but this year just went up in smoke.
“In normal circumstances, the hotels are fully booked during the Easter holiday season. However, the case is very different this year with the emergence of Covid-19 pandemic that has affected the whole world,” he said.
The county boss reiterated that the sector was slowly recovering from the losses made last year but unfortunately, the third wave of Covid-19 has once again hit the tourist industry.
He however lauded the measures being set by the government to curb the spread of the virus saying the government has concentrated on saving lives to minimize deaths caused by Coronavirus.
“I am holding discussions with the relevant department to see if we can allow private vehicles from the five counties locked, Nairobi, Machakos, Kajiado, Nakuru and Kiambu that will be driving straight to the Mara to be allowed during the Easter holiday,” said Tunai.