COVID-19 AILS BUSINESSES

Massive layoffs, closures mar Lamu hotel industry

More than 95 per cent of hotel bookings have been cancelled.

In Summary
  • Hotels struggle with dwindling clientele and revenue.
  • Many hotels have suspended operations.

More than 95 per cent of hotel bookings in Lamu have been cancelled as Covid-19 takes its toll on the country. 

This is according to statistics from the Department of Trade, Tourism and Investment released to the media on Monday. 

As of Monday, confirmed Covid-19 cases in Kenya had risen to 15. The situation has led to cancellations that prompted massive layoffs as hotel owners struggle with dwindling clientele and revenue. The bookings at different hotels had been made by domestic and international tourists.

Many hotels have suspended operations for lack of customers. The industry has incurred massive losses running into millions since the first Covid-19 case was reported in the country.

Lamu House Hotel manager Dominic Mulu said they closed a week ago and 31 of their 37 staff members have been sent on compulsory leave until further notice.

"We didn’t receive a single guest since the first case was reported in Kenya. The situation has dealt those of us in the hotel industry a huge blow. We have had to fire people because we can’t pay them if we aren’t in business," he said.

Lamu Palace and Pettleys Inn Hotels manager Keziah Mumbi said they have had to fire 45 out of their 60 staffers. She said more than 80 per cent of bookings had been cancelled and the situation kept getting worse with each passing day.

"We only have 15 staffers remaining out of the 60 we normally have. The firing was necessary as there is no business. Unfortunately, we may fire even more if things stay like this," Mumbi said.

SunSail Hotel proprietor Ali Bunu said he plans to close it down this week and wait until the virus is contained.

"The five remaining bookings that we had have since been cancelled and as I speak to you, this entire hotel has no single booking. The only option is for me to close until things get better," Bunu said.

Bush Gardens Seafront Hotel and Restaurant proprietor Ghalib Alwy said all 14 tourists from Holland and Australia who had reserved rooms later cancelled.

"Business has never been at its worst. I just have to close because things aren’t getting any better," Alwy said.