BRIGHTER YEAR

Hotelier says 2021 already looking up

Corporate and conference bookings full till March.

In Summary

•Sai Rock Beach Hotel marketing manager Martin Jira, who had to oversee an abnormal transition to 2021 at the hotel, said there are key lessons they learned from the pandemic-disrupted 2020.

•Local tourism, he said, has been keeping the industry moving in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Guests arrive at Sai Rock Beach Hotel on New Year.
CHECK-IN Guests arrive at Sai Rock Beach Hotel on New Year.
Image: BRIAN OTIENO
The Sai Rock Beach Hotel.
HOTEL INDUSTRY The Sai Rock Beach Hotel.
Image: BRIAN OTIENO

Hoteliers and beach operators in Mombasa are looking forward to a brighter 2021 as they design special packages to suit more domestic tourists.

Sai Rock Beach Hotel marketing manager Martin Jira, who had to oversee an abnormal transition to 2021 at the hotel, said there are key lessons they have learned from the pandemic which disrupted tourism last year.

From an enclosed end of the year party, to an indoors and early dinner with no fireworks to usher in 2021, Jira said all the new normal helped shape the hotel’s services going forward.

Jira said the hotel guests in 2021 will experience a different, more customized feel to the services as he looks forward to seeing the industry revive and get back on its feet.

“It is looking brighter already. We have started with a boom,” said Jira.

There are bookings for corporate events including conferences from January 4 through to March.

“These are already confirmed,” said Jira.

Local tourism, he said, has been keeping the industry moving in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Sai Rock says it has designed more attractive packages for local tourists.

“They will enjoy,” he said about guests.

A beach operator, Jamleck Mangu, said 2020 was the toughest year he has faced in his 15 years as a photographer along the Jomo Kenyatta Public Beach.

He said from earning between Sh1,500 to Sh3,000 a day to earning a paltry Sh100 on a lucky day has seen his outlook of life change.

“I have learnt great lessons in business and at a personal level,” he said.

He however said he has little hope for 2021 owing to the increasing number of Covid-19 cases worldwide.

He said though the vaccines have been found and are being tested, the new strain of Covid-19 reported in the UK and now in the US paints a gloomy picture.

“The disease is still there. We don’t know how 2021 will pan out. We can only pray,” he said.

Manjano Swahiba, who sells lesos, traditional hats and curios along the public beach, says she has high hopes for 2021.

“The disease has been like a wake-up call for people to turn back to God. I believe people have gone back to serving God and I believe God will make this a year of recovery,” Swahiba said.

Kenya Tourism Federation chairman Mohammed Hersi industry said there are vital lesson that industry players have learnt from the pandemic ad hopes the lessons will shape future packages.

“For the first time none of us ever imagined that a pandemic would hit the world that would make us equal and had no equal,” said Hersi.

He said the industry has shown resilience and the pandemic revealed that Kenyans can be relied upon to sustain the local tourism industry.

“Buy Kenya, build Kenya,” he said.

Guests enjoy a walk at the beach outside Sai Rock Beach Hotel.
LEISURE Guests enjoy a walk at the beach outside Sai Rock Beach Hotel.
Image: BRIAN OTIENO
A guest admires the Christmas decorations at Sai Rock Beach Hotel.
FESTIVITIES A guest admires the Christmas decorations at Sai Rock Beach Hotel.
Image: BRIAN OTIENO