SURVEY

Hotels in Nairobi and Mombasa remain backbone for tourism

Hotels in Mombasa reported improved business in July 2021, mainly attributed to the July school holiday and the high season for tourists

In Summary
  • The MPC hotels survey conducted in July noted that while the two counties had improved sentiments, hotels in other counties recorded a slight decline.
  • Bed occupancy in hotels in Nairobi and Mombasa improved in July, while the occupancy in the rest of the country declined.
Domestic toursits play in the pool at Sarova Whitesands Beach Hotel in Mombasa
WORKERS' RIGHTS: Domestic toursits play in the pool at Sarova Whitesands Beach Hotel in Mombasa
Image: ANDREW KASUKU

Hotels in Nairobi and Mombasa remained a backbone in the tourism industry recording steady increased performance in July, a new survey shows.

The latest MPC hotels survey conducted by the Central Bank of Kenya(CBK) noted that while the two counties had improved sentiments, hotels in other counties recorded a slight decline.

Bed occupancy in hotels in Nairobi and Mombasa improved in July, while the occupancy in the rest of the country declined on account of slow spending/uptake from national and county governments in the new financial year.

In June, the occupancy levels in hotels in Nairobi and Nakuru counties was boosted by the World Rally championship(WRC). Hotels in Nakuru county reported that they were fully booked during this event.

In addition, the end of financial year expenditure by the national and county governments boosted hotels operations in the rest of the country in June.

Hotels in Mombasa reported improved business in July 2021, mainly attributed to the July school holiday and the high season for tourists.

On average, bed occupancy increased to 30 in June and July, respectively, from 19 percent in April, the survey notes.

Consistent with the improved level of bed occupancy, the utilization of restaurant services improved to 38 per cent in July from 35 per cent in June .

“The utilization of the restaurant services in Nairobi has continued to improve since April following the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions on May 2,” said CBK.

The uptake of the restaurant services in the rest of the country improved in June boosted by the WRC event in Nairobi and Nakuru, the survey noted.

Similarly, in line with the levels of operations, employment in the sector improved in June to 62 percent of the pre-Covid-19 levels, up from 49 percent in April.

The improved performance in the two counties was also reflected in the employment patterns during the period.

While the level of employment in Nairobi improved in July, it declined slightly in the rest of the country, in line with the demand for the hotel services.

Most hotels operating in Nakuru county reported hiring more employees in June, during the WRC event.

Hotels in Mombasa reported giring of casual staff to meet demand, while also keeping others on rotational basis or shifts in line with demand.

The survey noted that 13 percent of hotels expected to resume normal levels of operations by end of 2021.

This is a decline from the 18 per cent recorded in the May survey, with respondents attributing the decline to persistence of the pandemic.

Mombasa hotels were the most optimistic about recovery in 2021, at 21 per cent of respondents.

The optimism was attributed to the fact that July-September is usually the high season for the tourism sector in Kenya and this is expected to boost their business.

Hotels in Nairobi however did not expect to return to normal levels of operation in 2021, largely on account of increased Covid-19 cases and concern over the lifting of curfew.

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.

Respondents attributed the dominance of local guests to low foreign clients due to the international travel restrictions imposed during the pandemic period.

In addition, respondents indicated that they have intensified their domestic marketing, and also offered discounted rates on their accommodation and restaurant services to attract local clientele.

On average 96 percent of the sampled hotels are now operating compared to 81 per cent in April, mainly reflecting continued recovery of the sector after the lifting of the Covid-19 containment measures on May 2.

In particular, all the respondent hotels in the rest of the country and 92 per cent of hotels in Nairobi are in operation.

A few hotels in Nairobi that are still closed cited low business as the main reason, since they largely depend on foreign business.

Nevertheless, respondents reported concerns and risks related to the resurgence and increase in Covid-19 infections to the sectors operations.

In a recent meeting, Tourism CS Najib Balala noted that the industry was on a steady recovery and business is coming back.

“We are seeing the international market trickling in especially from United States , with the tourists visiting the coast and the Maasai Mara,” said Balala.

Balala appreciated Kenyans for supporting the industry through domestic tourism.

Balala yesterday launched the revised Magical Kenya Tourism and Travel Health and Safety Protocols for the ‘New Normal’ to speedy the recovery of the sector.