Obama vehicles arrive in Nairobi 1

Obama vehicles arrive in Nairobi

A spot check by The Standard established yesterday that all the rooms in five-star hotels in the city will be occupied between July 21 and 26.

Several hotels including Crown Plaza, Holiday Inn, Tribe, Norfork, Hilton and Laico, Serena and Safari Park said they have been fully booked for the duration of Obama?s stay.

Owners of Sankara and Kempiski hotels in Westlands also indicated they expected the rooms to be fully booked by today.

The two have a bed capacity of 156 and 200 beds respectively.

?We are sorry there is no room for 26th. We don?t have a room as at now until 27th,? a reservation officer at Sankara said in response to enquiries by The Standard.

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Officials at Hotel Intercontinental, which has the largest bed capacity at 770 and the biggest presidential suite in the city, measuring 2,340-square-feet, also indicated there was no room available from July 21.

The hotel has previously hosted many heads of state and dignitaries including US Vice President Joe Biden, former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni.

?We don?t have a room as from 21,? said a reservations officer to The Standard on phone.

He added: ?Rooms will only be available after the conference.You can book for 27th. But you have to confirm.?

Other hotels that confirmed full occupancy during the duration of Obama?s visit include Eka Hotel on Mombasa Road, and Boma in South C. The have 170 and 140 rooms respectively.

Conference tourism

President Obama will be in Kenya for three days from July 24 to attend the Global Entrepreneurship Summit, which more than 1,500 people are excepted to attend.

Apart from security and aides, Obama?s team is also expected to come with its own staff who include cooks and waiters, and this partly explains the 100 per cent reservations in the hotels.

This is the biggest test yet of Nairobi?s capacity for conference tourism and it comes at a crucial time when Kenya?s tourism industry is struggling to climb out of a three-year slump.

Kenya Association of Hotel Keepers and Caterers Chief Executive Officer Mike Macharia said there should be no panic about space as the city has enough accommodation.

Macharia said: ?This summit is welcome news for the country and the tourism industry. We should not worry about accommodation because there are a lot of hotels within the city that offer first-class services. We urge those who are yet to get accommodation to contact us for assistance.?

He said there are more than 10,000 beds in the city, but added that more should be added for the country to effectively compete with other cities.

The last time Kenya hosted an event of such a magnitude was in 2009 when the United Nations high level conference on South-South cooperation that brought together 1,200 delegates was held in Nairobi.

According to data released last week by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, the country?s tourism sector recorded the biggest drop in earnings in the first quarter of 2015.

It?s the first time the GES will be held in sub-Saharan Africa, a region that has seen massive economic growth in recent years.

By Kibiwott Koross, The Standard

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