Gloomy August for hotels as Covid keeps numbers low

Occupancy low despite resumption of flights,SGR

In Summary

•Most hotels have adhered to the Covid-19 safety measures and have been allowed to re-open but business is still low.

•CS Najib Balala has projected international arrivals will fall by 90 per cent.

Tourists at a Mombasa beach/FILE
Tourists at a Mombasa beach/FILE

Hotels are yet to make gains from the re-opening of the economy as both domestic and international tourists numbers remain low, despite being the August peak period.

Most hotels have adhered to the Covid-19 safety measures and have been allowed to re-open, but according to the Kenya Association of Hotel Keepers and Caterers(KAHC), business is still low.

“Compliance with the protocols is very high, our members are not leaving anything to chance,” KAHC chief executive Mike Macharia told the Star.

“We cant evaluate occupancy at the moment as we have just reopened and have not operated for more than two weeks,” he added.

The cessation of movement which was lifted by President Uhuru Kenyatta last month had given hope to the industry as movement into and out of Mombasa and Nairobi resumed.

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.

The numbers are however yet to peak as Covid-19 continues to hit the economy, with job losses remaining high, while some households struggle to meet basic needs.

“Right now my proprieties are bills especially rent. Going for holiday, yes I want to, but first things first,” Linda Ogeto, a Nairobi resident, said.

Traditionally, the month of August which mostly coincides with the closure of schools has been a high-season with hotels reporting between 90-100 per cent occupancy.

Mombasa has at least 150 star rated hotels, Kilifi County (150) and Diani about 100, all which remain with low business from both leisure tourism and conferences.


We have opened the resort officially and registered 220 pax(persons), though normally it’s busier but this was an encouraging start . Numbers in August are slowly picking up . We average 80-120 guests daily,” said Sylvester Mbandi, general manager at the Baobab Beach Resort.

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

According to Mbandi, numbers pick over the weekend between 20-30 per cent occupancy.

Other hotels at the South Coast currently eying businesses include Leopard Diani Resort and Diani Reef.

PrideInn Paradise, in the North Coast, has reopened for business after a hiatus of four months.

“We put a lot of thought into our safety measures for the reopening,” said  Noorani Hasnain Noorani, managing director - PrideInn group of Hotels.

The coast region, a traditional beach holiday destination, is counting on domestic and international flights and the SGR travels, to help drive traffic to the region.

On Saturday, President Uhuru encouraged Kenyans to take advantage of the removal of restrictions on movement and resumption of flights to travel across the country, with the government counting on domestic tourism to help the sector recover.

"I want to take this opportunity to encourage every single Kenyan to take advantage and to travel...You can travel, you can move," the President said.

"And now as you know, we have also opened up our skies and flights are coming. We welcome all those who choose to come," he added.

Tourism CS Najib Balala has affirmed the country's readiness for business with tourism remaining a key segment of the economy.

“Kenya is ready and I want to thank Kenyans for supporting the tourism economy because that is creating jobs for our people,” Balala said.

The Covid-19 pandemic is projected to deny the country up to 80 per cent of annual tourism revenues, which translates to Sh130.9 billion based on 2019 total industry revenues where the sector generated a total of Sh163.6 billion.

The CS has projected international arrivals will fall by 90 per cent.

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