Local tourists to the rescue as hotels emerge from Covid winter

Kenya’s hotel industry is on a steady recovery path edging closer to pre pandemic levels following the lifting of zoned lockdown in May, the latest data from Central Bank shows.

Local guests continue being the primary source of income for hotels through accommodation and restaurant services, the CBK Hotel Survey July shows.

“Overall, local guests took up 80 per cent of accommodation and 81 per cent of restaurant services between June and July, 2021, compared to 62 per cent and 69 per cent, respectively, during the period before the pandemic,” the survey notes.

Hoteliers attributed the recovery to intensive domestic marketing, as well as offering of discounted rates on accommodation and restaurant services to local clientele.

In the period under review, however, there was a slight drop in the proportion of domestic clientele due to uptick in the number of foreign tourists ahead of the high tourist season as well as the just concluded World Rally Championship Safari Rally that saw hotels in Nakuru remain fully booked for days.

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Some services especially bars, reported being affected by the short operating hours. Consequently, the investors are requesting the extension of the operating hours from the current regulation where they are supposed to close at 7pm.

Their call might not be heeded to by the government owing to surging Covid-19 infections that are largely being driven by the virulent Delta variant.

Hospitals in Kenya are at breaking point as increasing number of people are admitted for Covid-19 related complications.

The overall employment levels in the hotels went up to 62 per cent of the pre-COVID-19 levels (February 2020) in July from 57 per cent reported in May and 49 per cent in April.

In the three months to July, hotels in Mombasa recalled or employed new workers after the scale down in April that was sparked by strict COVID-19 curbs.

Hotels in popular tourist destination of Mombasa reported hiring of casual staff to meet demand, while also keeping others on rotational basis or shifts in line with the changing demand.

“Forward bookings in the next four months showed recovery, despite concerns about the evolving nature of the pandemic…Nairobi hotels reported high bookings for August, at 26 percent, that was associated with the upcoming World Under 20 (U20) Athletics Championships to be held in Nairobi,” the survey reads in part.

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