Maasai Mara game reserve stakeholders are rooting for domestic tourism to boost the industry that was severely affected by Covid-19 outbreak.
Maasai Mara Wildlife Conservancies Association Chief Executive Officer, Daniel Sopia, observed that the number of foreign visitors flocking into the world-famous game reserve has decreased by 90 per cent since the onset of Coronavirus.
He said the trend greatly affected the livelihood of people living around the game reserve who depend on tourism for their livelihood.
Sopia called on Kenyans to take advantage of affordable rates being offered to domestic tourists to tour the game reserve to promote local tourism.
He reiterated that most schools and hospitals around the Maa region were built with money from the tourism sector, saying tourism is the backbone of the economy in the area.
Siana Springs Tented Camp Operations Manager Godfrey Mwirigi admitted that Covid- 19 adversely affected business and they were forced to create ways of maintaining the workers by promoting local tourism.
“The effect was very severe because we depended mainly on foreign visitors and when the flights were cancelled, we nearly lost hope, but we are happy we were able to survive because of local tourists,” said the Manager.
He said among the packages offered in the camp is road package where the camp collects the visitors from a central place in Nairobi and took them to Maasai Mara game reserve for two days before they return them to Nairobi.
“All the camps at the Mara are strictly adhering to regulations to curb the spread of Covid-19. Every visitor entering the park has to commit him/herself to following the protocols set to curb the spread of the virus,” said Mwirigi.
Narok Miss Tourism Kenya, Ms Stephanie Dikirr, encouraged Kenyans to visit their local game reserves and parks to see the beauty of their country as it is endowed with a variety of flora and fauna.
“Kenyans should take advantage of their beautiful country and tour around the game reserve to see millions of species that foreigners come to see,” she said.
Narok Governor Samuel Tunai confirmed that the County Government lost Sh2.25 billion in revenue at the Maasai Mara Game reserve when the country was closed to contain the Covid-19 spread last year. He, however, said the sector was slowly recovering from the losses made last year.
By Ann Salaton