01-03-2021 by Freddie del Curatolo
The Easter holidays come quite early this year, in the first week of April.
For Kenya, this date often coincides with the end of the tourist season.
Not the general season, nor as we understand it in Italy with the arrival of autumn for seaside resorts, but the season 'invented' by mass tourism, travel agencies and tour operators and consequently charter flights.
This year, of course, everything has been turned upside down and the organised holiday sector for Kenya, as for all the destinations favoured by holiday travellers, is the one that has lost the most in percentage terms.
A little less than a year ago Nairobi closed its international borders and Italian charter flights and those of other European nations had already organised themselves for the last repatriations (at the same time Air Italy had thought of leaving thousands of passengers on the ground for its personal problems) and those who had not taken advantage of this, nor had they boarded the last scheduled flights, had to wait for the lifeline of our Ministry of Foreign Affairs (as documented by the Tele Esule video that you can watch again below).
How the Kenyan tourism sector has reacted and resisted until now is well known. The government reopened to international flights after a little more than four months, in August 2020, but not all countries in the world have given their tourists the opportunity to travel, at least not without certain conditions.
Hotels, camps in the savannah and other facilities throughout the country have suffered and have not been adequately safeguarded. In order to reopen, they had to comply with the covid-19 criteria and their employees did not receive subsidies. In any case, thanks mainly to local tourism, those who decided to reopen at least during the Christmas holidays and the first weekends of the new year were rewarded by a good turnout, while the national parks suffered more, given the known idiosyncrasy of Kenyans to wild nature, which for many is not so far from the atmosphere of their native places.
So now we are heading towards the end of a season that did not actually take place, trusting in the Easter holidays as a last chance to make some cash before the inevitable closure and before looking out of a window overlooking the void, while waiting to see what will happen in the world and especially in Europe (Great Britain, Italy and Germany are three countries that provide the bulk of international tourism, especially on the coast).
It will be a "last minute" Easter because of the continuous evolution of the pandemic situation: the variants in circulation, the outgoing and incoming protocols (in Italy, for now, quarantine is still in force on the return from Kenya, which is among the countries in band E, those in which it is forbidden to travel for tourism) and the fear of travelling only to find oneself suddenly blocked do not make the choice easy, if not for the real "sick of Africa" and for those who are already used to going back and forth.
The logical consequence is to expect arrivals from the capital Nairobi and, at the limit, from neighbouring countries (Rwanda, Uganda, Ethiopia), provided that they too do not tighten the rules, as Rwanda, for example, is thinking of doing. From this point of view, Watamu seems to be much more advanced than Malindi: bookings are starting to arrive and even young people from more permissive countries, such as Belgium, Holland and Eastern Europe, are choosing the coast with beach + safari packages. Even in the Maasai Mara, Russians and Poles are outnumbering the Chinese and Japanese, who are usually the most popular in this period.
Talking about the paradise of nature on the border with Tanzania, it will be interesting to see how it will go with the most coveted event by fans, the Great Migration, which will be staged next June. Last year it was blocked off, with very few people enjoying it at the end of August.
This year could mark the resumption of tourism with a capital T for Kenya.
Let's hope so and as a minstrel seer sang, "he who will live, will see".
(photo by Paolo Torchio)
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