RECOVERY

Hotel bookings pick up as Kenyans warm up for holidays

Bookings purely by domestic tourists

In Summary

•The Nairobi Metropolitan Area is one of the biggest contributors for domestic tourists visiting the coast during.

•Some hotels have completed implementing the travel health and safety protocols provided by the ministry.

Domestic toursits playing in the pool at Sarova Whitesands Beach Hotel in Mombasa/FILE
Domestic toursits playing in the pool at Sarova Whitesands Beach Hotel in Mombasa/FILE

Hotels at the coast have started recording August bookings a week after the cessation of movement was lifted granting entry into and out of Mombasa, Nairobi and Mandera.

The Nairobi Metropolitan Area is one of the biggest contributors for domestic tourists visiting the coast during April (Easter and school holidays), August and December-New Year seasons.

 
 

Inquiries by the Star yesterday indicated August bookings are at an average 40 per cent, mostly from constitutes domestic tourists.

Some hotels have completed implementing the travel health and safety protocols laid out by the government.

Swahili Beach Resort and Jaracanda-Indian Ocean Beach Resort are currently operational.

A large number of hotels across the region, with more than 150 high-end hotels, are however in the process of  instituting the protocols with the majority expecting to re-open by August 1, when international travel resumes.

“The numbers for August have started to reflect but a number are those who agreed to defer their bookings instead of canceling when the industry was closing down because of Covid-19,” Kenya Association of Hotelkeepers and Caterers KAHC executive officer Sam Ikwaye told the Star.

Diani is slowing opening up, former National Skal President Sylvester Mbandi told the Star yesterday. 

Skal Club is the world's largest association that brings together tourism executives.

 

“Now it is purely domestic market. August is standing at 40 per cent but we are praying and working hard to get it to 60 per cent,” said Mbandi, who is also the general manager at the Baobab Beach Resort, said.

Baobab runs three luxurious properties – The Baobab, The Maridadi, and Kole Kole.

Baobab, Leopard Diani Resort and Diani Reef are expecting to open on August 1.

The region is counting on the resumption of domestic flights yesterday, SGR travels that commenced on Monday and resumption of international flights on August 1, to help drive traffic to the country’s beach holiday destination.

“Just being open for travel is a starting point for recovery of the industry,” Ikwaye said, even as he cautioned against impending political temperatures such as the BBI rallies, which could discourage international visitors.

Hotel revenues are however expected to remain low, according to the Kenya Tourism Federation(KTF), as outlets will not be operating at full capacity, to meet social distancing requirements.

“Hopefully we are looking at getting something but it will not be full-blown because everybody is broke and everybody is cautious,” KTF Chairman Mohammed Hersi said.

He projects the sector will recover from the October winter of 2021.

“For the next year, it is big trouble,” Hersi said in a telephone interview.

Domestic tourism accounted for 4,955,800 bednights last year up from 4,489,000 in 2018,  a 10.4 per cent growth, as earnings from the sector hit a new high of Sh163.6 billion from Sh157.3 billion the previous year.

Covid-19 disruption on travel and tourism has however seen the country lose 50 per cent of total annual tourism earnings, according to CS Najib Balala.

This translates to Sh81.8 billion based on last year's revenues.

Tourism and the aviation industry have been listed among those facing the highest exposure to financial distress in a survey by the business and financial services company-Moody’s.

Data compiled by the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (Kepsa)  indicate travel and tourism is the most hit with 3.1 million jobs affected including hotel employees, pubs and restaurants, tour operators, airlines, travel agents and their related suppliers and support services.

About 2.3 million employees were sent home on unpaid leave.

Covid-19 ‘s effects in the economy has affected more than 5.9 million jobs, Kepsa data shows.

Last week’s re-opening of travel is expected to boost the economy as key sectors start to recover.