Directive on proof of vaccination receives mixed reactions

Some hoteliers welcome the move, others say it is detrimental to tourism sector

In Summary

•On Sunday, the government issued a directive that only vaccinated people will receive government services.

•Tourists from the European region must be fully vaccinated and proof provided before being allowed into the country.

A hotel worker receives the Covid-19 vaccine at Kaderbuoy Health Centre in Mombasa.
A hotel worker receives the Covid-19 vaccine at Kaderbuoy Health Centre in Mombasa.
Image: FILE

Tourism stakeholders in Coast have expressed mixed reactions over the government’s directive requiring all people to show proof of vaccination before receiving services by December 21.  

Some hoteliers have welcomed the directive, saying Kenya needs to conform to international standards where people who travel abroad are required to show proof of being fully vaccinated.

However, others have said the directive is detrimental to the gains made by the sector, which is gradually recovering after 18 months of poor performance.

On Sunday, the government directed that only vaccinated people will receive government services and will be allowed into public spaces including national parks, game reserves, hotels, bars and restaurants.

Kenyans will be required to provide proof of full vaccination when seeking transport services including SGR, domestic flights and when boarding matatus.

The measures will require all businesses including small and medium business enterprises with more than 50 people a day to put up signage requiring proof of vaccination before entry into premises.

All indoor gatherings will be limited to two-thirds capacity with proof of vaccination of all attendees and visitors.

Tourists from the European region must be fully vaccinated and proof provided before being allowed into the country.

Kenya Association of Hotelkeepers and Caterers Coast executive director Sam Ikwaye said the move comes at the right time.

“It will boost the confidence of international guests in the tourism industry that Kenya is a safe country to visit,” he said.

Ikwaye said many countries abroad are asking for proof of vaccination before allowing their citizens to travel to other nations, therefore, Kenya is right to demand vaccination certificates from both local and international tourists.

“Locally, the directive will have a small effect on the business in December. Many countries are moving in the same direction. It is only a matter of time before Kenya is required to fully comply,” he said.

He urged Kenyans to take up the vaccine as it was the surest way to enable the country to continue being in business.

The hotel projection is expected to be at 80 per cent occupancy from the third week of December and the majority of international tourists coming to Kenya are already fully vaccinated.

“We are happy because close to 100 per cent of the workforce in our hotels are fully vaccinated and are ready to serve you,” Ikwaye said.

“We might lose business now because of the new directive but we will stabilize the industry for the future.” 

Mohammed Hersi, the immediate former chair of the Kenya Tourism Federation, said the directive will harm the sector, which is recovering from the impact of the Covid-19.

Speaking to the Star on phone, Hersi said hoteliers will encounter a challenge on how to enforce the directive.

Hersi said police officers and health officials might storm hotel facilities to start demanding Covid-19 vaccination certificates from the guests.

“All our hotel staff and a majority of clients have been vaccinated. However, if we make it mandatory, we are giving the police permission to walk into the hotels and demand vaccination certificates,”  Hersi said.

He said the move is going to disrupt the small window of opportunity the hotels have to make revenues during the festive season.

“The government should channel its energy in encouraging Kenyans to take up the vaccine, instead of going after the hotel industry,” Hersi said.

“We don’t need unnecessary pressure, we are tired.”

Edited by Kiilu Damaris