Rally return helps reset stressed out Naivasha hotels’ fortunes

As the World Rally Championship makes historic comeback to Kenya after a two-decade hiatus, the beautiful hotel lawns in Naivasha will make it to the striking Instagram posts for thousands of visitors.

About an hour’s drive from Nairobi, Naivasha has been steadily claiming its post as a great destination for weekend family getaway.

Over the last year, however, the town’s hotel industry has been struggling to stay afloat, seeing thousands of workers send home due to the economic fallout sparked by the pandemic.

The distressed business fortunes are, however, set to experience some relief, albeit for a couple of days as the Rift Valley town plays host to the WRC Safari Rally competition starting Thursday, June 24 to June 27.

“It’s a major boost for the hospitality industry in Naivasha as accommodation facilities record full bookings ahead of the Safari Rally event,” the Kenya Tourism Board tweeted.

Last experienced in Africa in 2002, WRC Safari Rally is back and rally enthusiasts look forward to suck up the atmosphere as budding and experienced racers duel in Naivasha’s challenging terrain complete with dirt roads, stunning picture-postcard scenery and exotic wildlife.

Read also: Safaricom unveils Sh17.5m Safari Rally sponsorship, bets big on young racers

Things are looking much different for the hoteliers: “We are already at a 100 per cent booking for accommodation. We are actually making referrals for accommodation services as more visitors keep calling,” said Elias Nduma, a manager at Lake Naivasha Resort.

“We are top notch in terms of preparedness and bookings. We are getting more and more (visitors) streaming in. We even have to do referrals in terms of how we are interchanging and referring visitors to other hotels within Naivasha because we are overbooked,” Mr Nduma added.

Tourism and Wildlife Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala has lauded the return of the WRC Safari Rally that kicks off this Thursday at the Kenya Wildlife Training Institute.

“Welcome the Safari Rally WRC to Kenya. It has been 19 years since the last rally that took place in Kenya. We are all excited and we want to welcome you again and again. I hope this Rally will continue more than just 2021,” said Mr Balala.

Competitors can expect rocky and rutted tracks and unpredictable weather which could transform dry and dusty trails into mud baths. It is the ultimate test for man and machine.

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