What Barack Obama’s visit to Kenya means for accommodation hosts in Nairobi

The White House announced on Monday that US President Barrack Obama will be visiting Kenya during the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) to be held in July 2015.

Obama visited Tanzania in 2013

Obama in Tanzania in 2013. [Photo/whitehouse.gov]

“His trip will build on the success of the August 2014 US-Africa Leaders’ Summit and continue our efforts to work with countries in sub-Saharan Africa, including Kenya, to accelerate economic growth,” read the statement in part.

As entrepreneurs and business leaders look forward to the event, hoteliers and tourism industry players in Kenya are concerned over the lack of capacity to host the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Nairobi.

The announcement, which came barely two days after Britain announced further travel warnings to Kenya, is seen by analysts as a tacit “endorsement” of Kenya as a tourist destination which may in turn resuscitate the now troubled tourism industry.

Obama tz

Obama in South Africa. [Photo/whitehouse.gov]

The greatest challenge however may lie in bed capacity in Kenya’s capital with questions arising on Nairobi’s ability to accommodate the tens of thousands of guests from Africa and the world streaming in for the event.

Nairobi had a bed capacity of approximately 10,000 according to data released in 2012 and from the scale of the July GES event and the interest that comes with a US presidential visit to Kenya, this number could prove insufficient to accommodate both domestic and international guests who will be streaming into Nairobi during that period.

Accommodation marketplace SleepOut.com has already started discussions with private apartment owners throughout the city to scale up exciting inventory numbers in order to handle the sharp increase in demand.

“We are in discussions with guest house and apartment owners throughout Nairobi to find ways of increasing accommodation capacity in the city ahead of Obama’s visit as the Global Entrepreneurship Summit is expected to attract tens of thousand of guests and dignitaries,” said SleepOut.com CEO Johann Jenson.


Additionally, with the availability of a wide variety of accommodation; from luxury homes to backpackers and bed and breakfasts, accommodation sites like SleepOut.com are positioning themselves for traffic spikes as guests search for convenient places to stay near the downtown core.

Jenson says the company is up to the task and is able to handle as many bookings as possible.

“SleepOut.com has an automated platform that connects guests and hosts to make the booking process simple and fast for the convenience of visitors,” he said.

The last time Obama was in Kenya was in 2006 when he was Senator for Illinois and this year’s visit will be his first he is making to his ancestral home as the President of the United States and the fourth in Africa during his tenure.

Book your stay in Nairobi on SleepOut.com.


Zimbabwe records growth in tourist arrivals

Zimbabwe recorded a 2.6 per cent growth in tourist arrivals in 2014, according to a report released by the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority.

The report indicates that the numbers grew to 1,880,028 arrivals in 2014 up from 1,832,583 recorded in 2013.

The report further shows growth in arrivals in Zimbabwe’s major source regions except Asia with the county receiving 85 per cent of tourist arrivals from low value markets.

Tourism receipts for that period recorded a slight decline from $856 million in 2013 to $827 million in 2014, reflecting a slight slump in expenditure.


The report also points Harare, Bulawayo and Victoria Falls as the major contributors of all room and bed capacity providing 64 per cent of the country’s accommodation.

Room occupancy in Harare rose to 59 per cent in 2014 from 52 per cent in 2013, while Bulawayo and Victoria Falls recorded a drop to 44 per cent (2013) from 52 per cent (2014) and 49 per cent from 53 per cent respectively.

National average hotel room occupancy fell to 36 per cent from 37 per cent in 2014.

Book your stay in Zimbabwe on SleepOut.com.


About NOMAD from SleepOut.com

Travel just like life should be inspiring, amusing, down-to-earth and diverse. NOMAD brings together original travel pieces by SleepOut.com guests and writers from around the globe written expressly for the NOMAD in you.


Seychelles enters deal to promote visibility in France

Seychelles Tourism Board has entered into a partnership with several players in the travel industry in order to promote the Island nation’s visibility in France.



The campaign, between the board and Etihad Airways, Air Seychelles and island specialist tour operator Passion des îles, has seen 250 taxis operating in the French capital Paris branded with the campaign message Réservez votre envol à prix doux.

The launch of the campaign coincided with the fashion week held from March 3rd to 11th in France, a period during which taxis were in high demand.

Thousand of flyers were also distributed in the taxis to help travellers get a better understanding of what was on offer. The campaign also entailed emailing of Newsletters that promote Seychelles as an ideal tourist destination.

More campaigns have also been slated for coming months.

Seychelles is a 115 island-archipelago located 600 kilometres from the Kenyan coast and 1,500 kilometres east of mainland Africa, northeast of the island of Madagascar.

The country boost pristine sandy beaches, awesome entertainment, rich culture, and hospitable locals.

Book your stay in Seychelles on SleepOut.com.


fastjet edges closer to setting base in Zimbabwe

Low cost jet fastjet has moved a step closer to launching base in Zimbabwe after receiving an air service permit from the Zimbabwean government.

The airline is now making frantic efforts to acquire an air operator certificate which will give them a green light to set base in the Southern African country.


fastjet’s interest in Africa have expanded over the years with plans rolled out last year to set base in Kenya as well in a bid to expand its reach.

The airline which began operating low cost flights in 2012 has so far carried over 635,000 passengers through its domestic network in Tanzania, Johannesburg, South Africa and Lusaka, Zambia.

According to the airline’s interim executive chairman and chief executive Ed Winter, fastjet has identified many potential routes within and from Zimbabwe which it expects to explore.

“For example there are as many as 100 buses a day travelling the 1,100km between Harare and Johannesburg at fares up to $120 return. Our low cost model seeks to tap into this huge market,” said Winter.

Last year, fastjet launched a low cost flight from Dar es Salaam in Tanzania to Zimbabwe’s capital Harare in a bid to famirialise itself with the market.

The airline currently operates in Tanzania, Zambia and Uganda. Its entry into the Zimbabwean market will up competition in the aviation industry with another low cost airline FlyAfrica already in operation.

Book your stay in Zimbabwe on SleepOut.com.


President Kenyatta urges diplomats to promote Kenya’s tourism

President Uhuru Kenyatta has challenged the country diplomats abroad to work on shaping the country’s image.

The President said the diplomats should move to promote Kenya as an safe and ideal destination for tourists. He also urged Kenya Tourist Board not to only focus on tourists from abroad but also those from Africa.

Arrivals at JKIA. [Photo/mobile.nation.co.ke]

Arrivals at JKIA. [Photo/mobile.nation.co.ke]

Speaking during the 17th Biennial conference at Leisure Lodge Golf Club and Resort in Kwale, conference for high commissioners and ambassadors on Tuesday, President Uhuru said many visitors from African countries pass through Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport en route to their destinations and yet they do not stay for holiday.

“We need to look beyond what is traditional. We should ask ourselves why African tourists use Nairobi as their transit point yet they cannot stay for holiday,” he posed.

Other government officials present at the function included Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohammed, Mining Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala and Cabinet Secretary for Interior Joseph Nkaissery.

Uhuru said Kenya is stable and expressed optimism that Western countries will soon lift travel advisories imposed to the country last year.

Travel to Nairobi, Kenya. Book your stay on SleepOut.com.


About NOMAD from SleepOut.com

Travel just like life should be inspiring, amusing, down-to-earth and diverse. NOMAD brings together original travel pieces by SleepOut.com guests and writers from around the globe written expressly for the NOMAD in you.


Tourism spurring Seychelles economic growth – IMF

A report released by International Monetary Fund (IMF) shows that the recovery of Seychelles’s tourist arrivals has raised the projected growth of the Island nation’s economy.

The prospects of growing tourism market led to the revision of the country’s projected growth for 2015 to three and a half percent.

A statement by the mission staff has also commended Seychelles’ macroeconomic performance and encouraged further reforms to safeguard the island nation’s growth.


The Seychelles economy is reliant on tourism and tuna exports which are notably the highest foreign exchange earners.

According to figures from the National Bureau of Statistics, visitors to the Seychelles have increased from 52,056 between January and the twelfth week of 2014 to 57,206 during the same period this year, signifying a 10 per cent increase.

IMF mission chief Marshall Mills recommended the policies put in place by the Seychelles government over the past six to nine months that has spurred economic growth in the island nation.

“Last year there were shocks; one in the tourism sector with flat arrivals. The policy framework that’s in place has managed these chocks,’ he said.

Seychelles is a 115 island-archipelago located 600 kilometres from the Kenyan coast and 1,500 kilometres east of mainland Africa, northeast of the island of Madagascar.

The country boost pristine sandy beaches, awesome entertainment, rich culture, and hospitable locals.

Book your stay in Seychelles on SleepOut.com.


Qatar Airways to launch flights to Zanzibar

Zanzibar’s tourism industry may be headed for a major boost after Qatar Airways announced plans to launch flights to the Island town from July 1 2015.

The new five-times-a-week flight will operate via Kilimanjaro and becomes the third gateway in Tanzania after Dar es Salaam and Kilimanjaro and the 20th city in Africa.



The launch brings new developments in Qatar Airway’s operation in Tanzania with the current Kilimanjaro flights served via Dar es Salaam will be non-stop from Doha to Kilimanjaro with return flights from Kilimanjaro to Doha served via Zanzibar.

The launch of direct flights now offer passengers will several options travelling to any of the 140 destinations served by the airline.

“Today’s announcement of new services to Zanzibar reflects our commitment to connect diverse cities via our Doha hub and offer our passengers an extensive range of exciting global destinations.

“As our 20th gateway in Africa, Zanzibar will strengthen our presence as one of the biggest airline flying to the African continent,” said Qatar Airways chief executive Akbar Al Baker.

The launch comes weeks after Qatar Airways announced plans to increase operation to Johannesburg and Durban, South Africa.

Book your stay in Zanzibar on SleepOut.com.


‘Christmas’ comes early this year as Wildebeest migration begins

‘Christmas’ has come early for enthusiasts of wildebeest migration as the fete begins, three months ahead of schedule.

Thousands of wildebeest began arriving in the central areas of the Serengeti this week in what has left Safari experts astonished. The migration usually begins in early summer but the dry conditions in the southern Serengeti have encouraged the animals to head north far earlier than usual.



Bradley Murray, Singita Faru Faru Lodge general manager said this is one of the earliest migrations ever recorded in the history of wildebeest migration.

“This is one of the earliest sighting on record. The wildebeest stated passing through the reserve unexpectedly on May 1 last year and we thought that was a big deal – but this is incredible,” he said.

He further notes that the initial assumption was that a couple of strays had broken away from the main herd but this perception changed when tens of thousands started flooding in.

“It is always an awe-inspiring sight but now all you can see is wildebeest,’ he notes.

The early migration is a blessing for travellers who will get an opportunity to witness the migration without paying peak season prices.

Some lodges in Kenya’s Maasai Mara charge over $600 a night for a double room during the peak season while the cost stands at as little as $300 a night in March and below that mark in April.

Around 1.5 million wildebeest accompanied by some 200,000 zebras make the 1,200 mile journey each year in search of wetter conditions. The herds travel through the Tanzania’s Serengeti and on to Kenya’s Maasai Mara Game Reserve before returning south in early autumn.

Book your accommodation at the  Maasai Mara and Serengeti on SleepOut.com and witness the wildebeest migration.

Lake of Stars

Date set for Lake of Stars Festival 2015 in Malawi

The 2015 edition of Lake of Stars Festival will be held from September 25th to 27th at the Sunbird Nkopola Lodge at Mangochi in Malawi.

The award-winning event will be running its 10th edition this year with the organisers promising even more high quality entertainment and better experience that last year.

lake of stars 2

“We are excited to be launching this year’s Lake of Stars Festival with the backing of a number of our sponsors and partners from 2014, alongside new partners,” said Lake of Stars director Will Jameson.

He added: “Last year’s festival was our biggest and best to date, and this year we want to deliver an even better experience for all those who are involved.”

Among the artists set to perform at the event include Young Fathers from the UK, Ric Hassani from Nigeria, Danny Kalima George Kalikusha and Gwamba from Malawi and Menes from Democratic Republic of Congo.

lake of stars1

In addition to the musical line up, attendants will also enjoy a diverse selection of other entertainment including poetry, theatre, dance and art. The festival will also continue its family-friendly ethos with children activities and free tickets for those aged 12 and below.

Running alongside the three-day event will be free outreach activities in neighbouring Chipoka village for the local community.

Visit lakeofstars.org for more information.

Book your stay in Malawi on SleepOut.com.


Four ways to get to Victoria Falls from Harare, Zimbabwe

Regarded as Africa’s most famous waterfall, Victoria Falls is situated on the course of Zambezi River in Southern Africa at the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe. The falls is locally known as “Mosi-Oa-Tunya” to mean “the smoke that thunders” owing to the rapturous sound it makes when it pours into the Zambezi River. SleepOut highlights below several ways to get to Victoria Falls from Zimbabwe’s capital Harare.

By air

International and domestic airlines use the Harare International Airport located 15km southeast of Harare while chartered flights and other light aircraft operate from Charles Prince airport located 2km northwest of Harare.



The flights available are Air Zimbabwe and South Airways, which passes through Johannesburg.

Victoria Falls Airport is approximately 20km out of town but worry not as you can hire taxis to take you to your destination for $30.00. Most of the hotels and lodges in Victoria Falls also have a pickup service for their clients. There are also bus services available.


By bus

Buses regularly travel between Harare and Victoria Falls and vice verse. There are a few bus companies like Pathfinder and City Link that operate this route and are decently priced with various classes of seating available.



The bus stations are in the town centres of each city and make numerous stops at each town along the way, where you can get on and off the buses.

It is generally a 12 to 13 hours journey from Harare to Victoria Falls and is very reliable and affordable. The buses work on a daily basis and are extremely clean and comfortable.



On self-drive from Harare via Bulawayo is approximately 880kms to Victoria Falls taking around 12 hours drive.



Bulawayo is located 440kms out of Harare and is the second largest city in Zimbabwe making it the perfect place to pause before continuing with your journey.

Self drive is a good option as it allows you to have fun and makes it possible to make stops at different destinations and take in the beautiful scenery.


By train

You can travel to Bulawayo and Mutare from Harare Train station near corner Kenneth Kaunda Ave & Second Street, from here you can connect to Victoria Falls.


The train timetables are constantly changing though and maybe be delayed on bad days. This makes this means of transport unreliable and uncomfortable.


Book your stay in Zimbabwe on SleepOut.com

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