THE Great Wildebeest Migration, which occurs between July and October, is just a few weeks away. With the Eid Al Fitr holidays expected to fall in August, the Kenya Tourist Board (KTB) is confident of a positive influx of visitors from the Middle East to witness this spectacular phenomenon.
Considered to be Africa’s greatest wildlife spectacle, the Great Wildebeest Migration is an annual occurrence where hundreds of thousands of wildebeest and zebras make their seasonal trek from the southern Serengeti to the north of the Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya.
This exceptional event attracts visitors from across the globe as they witness the wildebeest, zebras and thousands of other animals make the 500-km round trip in search of water and greener pastures.
KTB’s regional marketing manager John Chirchir termed this year as a fortunate year since the Eid Al Fitr holidays fall within the months of the Great Migration. In recent years, Kenya has grown in popularity as a destination for Middle East residents with positive prospects ahead owing to attractions such as the migration. Visitor figures for 2011 from the UAE show a healthy increase of 40 per cent and with a 14.2 per cent increase on the first three months of 2012 compared to 2011 it’s a good indication the trend is set to continue”.
Chirchir added: “At this time of the year with maximum temperatures of 31 degrees, Kenya is much cooler than the Middle East and, with the spectacle of the Great Migration, is the perfect destination for an Eid holiday. In addition, with flying time on average only four and a half hours from most Middle East airports and great direct air connectivity from Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Doha, Bahrain, Muscat and Jeddah, Kenya is an ideal short-haul choice for families, couples and friends to visit even for a long weekend.
'A further attraction is that access into Kenya is also easy, with most nationalities receiving visas on arrival and the Kenyan Government not requiring visitors to take any vaccinations prior to entering the country.”
Visitor arrivals from the Middle East have, over the past four years, almost doubled. From January to December 2011, arrivals from the UAE alone topped 21,128, marking an increase of 40 per cent compared to the same period in 2010. Figures released for the UAE for the first three months of 2012 indicate a continued increase with a total of 4,469 visitors, representing an incline of 14.2 per cent compared to the same period in 2011.
This growth in demand from the UAE, coupled with the increased carrier activity from the Middle East and ease of access into this magical destination, is expected to not only continue on an upwards trajectory, but also trigger a further increase in traffic from the wider GCC.