Hoteliers urge state to scale up vaccination as industry suffers losses


AfricaPress-Kenya: Tourism industry players have urged the government to scale up Covid-19 vaccination across the country and in particular the five zoned counties of Nairobi, Nakuru, Kiambu, Machakos and Kajiado.

The National Chairman of the Tourism Professional Association, Paul Kimeli Kurgat said it was prudent that the pace of vaccination is increased across the nation.

“This will give more confidence and reduce risks to professionals as well as visitors who are likely to come back should the infection curve flatten before the onset of the next tourism high season in July,” Kurgat who is also a director at Saiwa Holidays and Consultancy said.

He urged authorities to ensure that there is adequate preparation for other possible calamities so that the country is not caught flat foot.

“Across the board, we are seeing very depressed occupancies averaging 15 per cent. It has been a bad period for the industry since the onset of the novel coronavirus last year with international arrivals remaining at an all-time low and a limited number of locals stepping out of their homes to go for holidays,” he said.

Kurgat said that while Coast resorts have also been hard hit after the new cessation of movement order announced by President Uhuru Kenyatta took effect with a few days to Easter festivities, camps, tented resorts and lodges within the expansive Tsavo Eco-system were doing below 40 per cent on average due to low bookings.

Kurgat further challenged the devolved units of government to get involved and work out localised solutions to incentivise businesses within their areas of jurisdictions that have suffered the effect of the pandemic as regards fees and tax levies.

The Kenya Association of Hotel keepers and Caterer (KAHC) Coast branch executive officer, Dr Sam Ikwaye explained that potential visitors who had booked for Easter holidays shelved their plans due to the new travel restrictions announced in efforts to curb the spread of the virus.

“It is not business as usual, it is a low key affair as many potential guests have rescinded their holiday plans,” Ikwaye said .

He said that while many hoteliers were upbeat over Easter and April holiday season, it has dawned on them that there will be no guests to attend to.

“After April, we are entering the low season with very depressing business. However we all need to work hard and ensure we flatten the infection curve to make sure there are no more lockdowns,” Ikwaye said.
Ikwaye said that beach resorts and establishments operate efficiently when there are guests.

Proprietor of the three-star Jacyjoka Apartments and Resorts in Nyali upmarket area, Ms Janet Chamia was crestfallen as all their local bookings which they had confirmed for the Easter holiday had to be cancelled.

“We had prepared well for Easter and had even hired a few more casuals to help in some hotel operations. With the cancelled bookings, we have to think otherwise. We now have to rely on walk-ins from around Mombasa,” Chamia, the Mombasa County Kenya Association of Women in Tourism chairperson said.

Hotelier Denis Gwaro, General Manager at Plaza Beach Hotel said they have slashed rates to entice Mombasa residents to check-in for holiday.

“We have made last-minute adjustments to our rates and hope there will be a response from our very own people in and around Mombasa,” Gwaro said.


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