LOCKDOWN BITES

Lamu hotels suffer as over 90% of Easter bookings cancelled

Businesses have been forced to lay off staff and close down

In Summary

• Major hotels like Lamu Palace, Petleys, Peponi, Majlis and Lamu House have been forced lay off their staff for lack of customers.

• The Majlis hotel for instance had to lay off 35 per cent of its staffers owing to the massive cancellation of bookings.

More than 90 per cent of visitors to Lamu cancelled bookings for the Easter holiday, causing massive losses to businesses. 

A Covid-19 lockdown in Nairobi, Kajiado, Nakuru, Machakos and Kiambu forced many to cancel or reschedule travel plans. 

Major hotels like Lamu Palace, Petleys, Peponi, Majlis and Lamu House have been forced lay off their staff for lack of customers.

The Majlis hotel for instance had to lay off 35 per cent of its staffers owing to the massive cancellation of bookings. 

“The remaining 65 per cent [of staff] will have to contend with a mandatory salary reduction as things are not doing well. We recorded about 99 per cent cancellation of our Easter bookings once the lockdown was announced,” said an official at the hotel.

By Saturday evening, only one room out of the 40 at the hotel had been booked.

In previous years, the hotel had been fully booked, with some visitors forced to find alternative accommodation.

Carol Korschen, proprietor of the luxurious Peponi hotel in Shella said they are in process of closing down following massive cancellations of bookings.

“We will be closed by April 6th and release all our staff. We don’t have guests any more. There are no more flights coming into Lamu. Most of the guests are from the five counties that were put on lockdown. We have no option but to close down in the meantime,” she said.

She said all the 125 employees will be sent on compulsory leave until things get better.

By Saturday evening, the hotel had only nine guests for Easter. It has 28 rooms. 

Lamu Tourism Caucus chairperson Abdallah Fadhil said the tourism sector's earning had dropped by 95 per cent since January, a situation that he blamed on the pandemic and the lockdown.

“We wish ... President [Uhuru Kenyatta] would find other ways of containing the pandemic instead of locking down these five counties,” he said.

Stakeholders have urged county and national governments to find ways of reviving the sector for the sake of those whose livelihoods have been affected.

Lamu Tourism executive Josephat Musembi said the county has planned a stakeholder engagement meeting next week to look into possible mitigation measures for the tourism sector.

“Our objective is to come up with ways of reviving the sector before it’s too late,” he said.

 

(edited by o. owino)