Hotel industry in Kisumu reels from Covid-19 crisis

About 90 per cent of workers have been sent on unpaid leave.

In Summary

• The government had issued directives that restaurants and hotels have their employees tested first before they are allowed to resume operations.

• Most hotels say they have yet to receive testing kits from Kemri so they can't reopen just yet.

Kisumu Hotel and deserted streets.
INDUSTRY SHOCK: Kisumu Hotel and deserted streets.
Image: Martin Ombima

The Covid-19 crisis has crippled the hotel industry in Kisumu.

About 99 per cent of establishments have closed, striking a blow to other sector players such as food suppliers. 

Robinson Anyal, the chairman of a lobby advocating the interests of Western Region hotels, said most hotels have closed to avoid losses and 90 per cent of workers have been sent on unpaid leave.

Anyal said some facilities are willing to resume operations so their staff can work in shifts until normalcy returns but customers have stayed away, hence complicating their plans. For others, however, employees have not been tested — a mandatory requirement before they can reopen. 

"The government had issued directives that restaurants and hotels should have kits to test their customers first before they are allowed in. We are yet to be provided with those kits by Kemri, so we may remain grounded until we are provided with the kits or the situation is reversed,” Anyal said.

He said their efforts to reach the Kenya Medical Research Institute for the kits have been unsuccessful as they have been kept waiting.

"We are not sure for how long we are going to wait for those kits," Anyal said.

For the few hotels that are in operation, the accommodation wings have remained inactive as people shun hotel rooms. They include Mamba Hotel, Java Hotel, Dreamhouse and Pwani Dishes. They say they are only trying not to lose their clients.

Mamba Hotel manager John Oyalo said they will suspend their operations if the situation persists. Twenty of their staffers are already on unpaid leave.

Hotels that have suspended their activities include Acacia, Rockwell, Jerome, Jumuia, Sovereign and Royal City Garden Milimani. Most of the guests who had checked in were released and those who had made reservations were turned away as the facilities sought to prevent the spread of the virus.

At Melvis Hotel, only security guards were present during a spot-check by the Star across the lakeside city. 

Kisumu Hotel was closed, with a notice at the entrance saying: "Following the circumstances surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent advisories from the government on the associated risks, the hotel will remain closed until further notice."

The situation was the same at the Imperial Hotel.

"Over the past few weeks, we've witnessed and seen the impact of Covid-19 outbreak upon the whole world. Everyone is affected in one way or the other and as Imperial Express Hotel we are no exemption,” said a notice pinned at the entrance by the management.


(Edited by F'Orieny)