The festive season is the time of year when hospitality businesses around the world are pulling out all stops to offer their customers special meals and special deals. It is no different in East Africa although there are changes in the air this year.
Traditionally, the Kenya coast was in most demand for the holiday season, rooms were going at a premium, if one could be secured in case of a late booking, and from before Christmas until after New Year, supplements were often charged which allowed the hotels to put on spreads at the buffet tables for lunch and dinner which for all intents and purposes meet the description that it snowed food and rained drinks, even along the sun-drenched beaches of the Indian Ocean.
This year, occupancies at the coast are way down, few resorts will be lucky to hang out the signs of “fully booked,” and most will be left to rue their government’s relative inaction to revive coast tourism when closing December occupancies in the 50, 60, or if lucky the 80 percent region but not with the usual 100 percent.
Seemingly stepping up this year are the city hotels in Nairobi, Dar es Salaam, Kigali, and Kampala, which have published special accommodation deals, in particular for the New Year period, allowing guests to revel into the wee hours, drink and be merry, and then, without the risk of driving under the influence, simply step into the elevators of their chosen abode and exit on their floor and sleep in their room, if they can remember the room number in an inebriated state.
Smart hotel marketers created packages where the use of the gyms and sometimes even their spas is included to work off the aftermath of heavy meals and overindulgence, only so as to be ready for another day of feasting and indulging before the same cycle resumes.
Security measures in the capitals have also been stepped up in the past few days as witnessed during recent visits to Dar es Salaam and Kigali, and added security being deployed in Kampala and at the entrances to malls ,made even more secure with intense car and body checks at the entrances as well.
“Christmas and New Year requires extra vigilance,” said a top security operative in Kampala on condition of anonymity to this correspondent. “Our boys are deployed; they patrol and secure key places to make sure our people are safe. Many Ugandans will travel upcountry to unite with their families in the villages. We urge them to stay sober and not drink before traveling. We also advise that they have rested and checked their cars so that they do not fall asleep on the wheel or their vehicles break down and create obstacles in the roads. For those who remain in Kampala, we are using all our resources to make sure everyone has a safe Christmas and New Year.”