Kenya Leads The Way As Fastest Growing Destination In 2009

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Kenya has bounced back with a vengeance after suffering a dismal 2008 because of post-election rioting last January. One year after unrest hit the headlines, the East African safari and beach destination has topped the list of fastest growing long haul destinations compiled by Hayes & Jarvis (0871 664 0246).

When under £800pp can buy you a week in a five-star resort, as it does in Sri Lanka, it's no surprise that bookings are booming

Kenya has bounced back with a vengeance after suffering a dismal 2008 because of post-election rioting last January. One year after unrest hit the headlines, the East African safari and beach destination has topped the list of fastest growing long haul destinations compiled by Hayes & Jarvis (0871 664 0246). The worldwide holiday specialist reports a year on year increase for forward bookings made in January and February of 90 per cent.

Hayes & Jarvis Head of Commercial Niel Alobaidi said that Kenya had pulled back not just as a result of the underlying strength of demand for the destination but "because hoteliers and airlines have been aggressively cutting prices in a bid to incentivise holidaymakers to return. The huge increase recorded so far this year shows that this is working and that recovery is almost complete. In recent weeks we have been able to offer savings of up to 50 per cent on some Kenya packages and average prices for safari and beach holidays have dropped by almost 14 per cent since last year."

Kenya is not the only destination to benefit as cash-strapped holidaymakers search out bargains in overseas travel. Hayes & Jarvis also reports strong booking levels for the US and Caribbean Islands, despite sterling's slump against the dollar. Five of 10 places in Hayes & Jarvis' Fastest Growing Destinations are taken by leading Caribbean and US destinations.

Niel Alobaidi said: "St. Lucia and Antigua have recorded increases of over 30 per cent in recent weeks - mainly because of the really competitively-priced all-inclusive holidays that are available for families. And, despite the big drop in the value of the British pound, US destinations are riding high, not just in Orlando, where there has been tremendous discounting because of slack demand from the domestic US market, but in Miami, Las Vegas and New York too. In fact the biggest increase that we have seen is in bookings for Miami, where we have expanded our programme to meet demand."

HAYES & JARVIS FASTEST GROWING DESTINATIONS 2009

1. KENYA
2. ST. LUCIA
3. FLORIDA
4. ANTIGUA
5. BALI
6. LAS VEGAS
7. SRI LANKA
8. MEXICO
9. NEW YORK
10. MALAYSIA

The buoyancy in bookings for destinations that use the dollar, including the Caribbean Islands, is echoed by currency sales recorded by Post Office® Travel Services, the UK's largest foreign currency provider, which reports stable US dollar purchases despite the weakness of the pound.

None of Hayes & Jarvis' top three bestsellers - the Maldives, Thailand and Mauritius - made the Fastest Growing Destinations top ten list. Mauritius is bested place at no.13 in the Hayes & Jarvis chart, with growth of around nine per cent. Thailand suffered a temporary setback because of poor publicity after the airport siege in December but, says Niel Alobaidi, "is a really popular destination with British holidaymakers and great deals by hoteliers are already helping it to pull back."

In the meantime other Far East countries, led by Bali and Malaysia, have reaped the benefit of Thailand's misfortune as tourist look to replicate Thai holiday experiences in similarly exotic destinations - especially those where the cost of living is low.

Ironically the only destinations that have really suffered this year are the mid-haul duo of Egypt and Dubai. Both were big successes in 2008 but have struggled to retain that form in 2009 so far. However Niel Alobaidi remains upbeat: "Political problems may have deterred holidaymakers but we think that a glut of new rooms in Dubai, especially, will make holidays cheaper this spring and summer and should boost demand,"

Above all, value remains crucial for the long haul holiday market and explains the high showing of Sri Lanka and Mexico in the Hayes & Jarvis chart. "When under £800pp can buy you a week in a five-star resort, as it does in Sri Lanka, it's no surprise that bookings are booming," said Niel Alobaidi.

HAYES & JARVIS DEALS AVAILABLE IN MARCH AND APRIL:
DUBAI: Departing 29th March, four nights at the five- star Habtoor Grand Resort & Spa, Dubai is available for £799pp, including B&B accommodation and British Airways flights from London Heathrow. Saves £513pp - or 61 per cent.

SRI LANKA: Departing 30th March, eight nights in Sri Lanka at the five- star Taj Exotica costs only £745pp and includes Kingfisher Airlines flights from London Heathrow and B&B accommodation. Saves £516 or a mammoth 59 per cent.

ALL INCLUSIVE KENYA FOR £699: Departing 1st April, seven nights at the three-star Diani Sea Lodge costs only £699pp for an all-inclusive package including Kenya Airways flights from Heathrow. Saves £112pp - or almost 14 per cent.

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David Peiris

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