The Hotel and Restaurant Authority has released the Maasai Mara Report which indicates that out of the 108 establishments in the Mara, only 29% are licensed by the ministry.

The allure of the Maasai Mara has turned out to be a battle for occupation as hoteliers and camp operators invest heavily to get a piece of this premium real estate. A 5 KM stretch in the Mara today accommodates more than 5 hotel camps yet most of these facilities dotting the Mara, especially those that started as temporary camps, are operating without a license.

Though no ultimatum has been issued, those unlicensed are asked to do so or face being taken to court. The National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) has also suspended any new application until the situation is contained. The inspection will soon cover other regions in the country.

Tourism Minister, Najib Balala, said most of the establishments do not pay taxes, depriving the government of millions of shillings in revenue. The minister said the situation is made worse by growing concerns of congestion at the world-famous game reserve.

The government has already suspended the development of tourist facilities in the Maasai Mara National Reserve, to develop a long-term management plan for the ecosystem. The Tourism Minister said the major challenge has been the uncoordinated approach between the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), NEMA and the Ministry of Tourism.

A bill being considered by the ministry is looking to change the structure where developers will be required to acquire a provisional license then get a full license once all other requirements are met in an effort to seal the current loopholes. The survey was carried out after an inter-ministerial audit done in 2008 revealed the anomalies.

Does anyone know what the current status with this is because, from where we stand, Maasai Mara still seems quite congested?