HELPING HAND

Reprieve for hoteliers as Mombasa county suspends levy

Tourism stakeholders welcome the move.

In Summary

•The grace period for the payment of Single Business Permit for the financial year 2021 has also been extended to June 30.

•Among other resolutions arrived at include extension of grace period for payment of land rates for the FY 2021 from March to June 20.

Governor Hassan Joho and Mombasa tourism stakeholders at his office on Saturday.
CUSHION Governor Hassan Joho and Mombasa tourism stakeholders at his office on Saturday.
Image: HANDOUT

At least 150 star rated hotels and hundreds of other hoteliers in Mombasa have gotten a major reprieve with the suspension of hotel levies by the county government.

The Mombasa county government has said the suspension is "until further notice", in a move to cushion the industry that has been hard hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The grace period for the payment of single business permit for the financial year 2021 has also been extended to June 30.

A 30 per cent waiver on single business permit for enterprises owned by the youth, women and people with disabilities has also been introduced.

Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho on Friday led discussions with tourism stakeholders drawn from Mombasa, on mitigation of the Covid-19 pandemic on the industry and economy at large.

Among other resolutions arrived at in the discussions included extension of grace period for payment of land rates for the financial year 2021 from March to June 20, with the county also promising to work closely with the stakeholders to expedite the enactment of the legislation on beach management.

Speaking at his office, governor Joho said the county government will continue working closely with all stakeholders in a bid to revive tourism and the economy at large.

“I want to assure the tourism stakeholders that we shall support them in any way possible. We have extended deadlines for several payments and also made arrangements with the finance department to allow payments to be made in installments,” said Joho.

Tourism stakeholders welcomed the move stating that it would go a long way in cushioning the already struggling industry.

Government data in collaboration with the Kenya Private Sector Alliance indicates travel and tourism  is the most hit with over 3.1 million jobs affected.

This includes hotel employees, pubs and restaurants, tour operators, airlines, travel agents and their related suppliers and support services.

Last year, about 2.3 million employees in the industry were sent home on unpaid leave.

Kenya Coast Tourism Association chair Victor Shitakha has welcomed the move promising that all hotels in the region will strive to abide by the Ministry of Health set protocols.

“I thank the county government for the measures agreed on to cushion us. Let me assure you that our members will work closely with the Ministry of Health to ensure that all protocols are observed in our hotels,” said Shitakha.

Last Wednesday, the government launched a nationwide vaccination exercise targeting over 5,000 tourism players in the country, which has however received a backlash from the Tourism Professional Association(TPA).

It has accused the Tourism Regulatory Authority of discriminating against its members, who were turned away at the exercise in Nairobi,  under the guise of non-compliance with TRA’s function of licensing tourism and hospitality facilities.

“Whilst we thank the Tourism CS (Najib Balala)for understanding our plight and securing vaccine doses for our members, the decision to peg vaccination on compliance to payment of operating licences by facility owners is ill advised and totally injudicious,” TRA said in a statement.