WE'RE HURTING

Give hospitality a tax holiday - Lake Victoria tourism

Hotels suffer 80 per cent cancellations in Covid third wave, some forced to close, lay off staff

In Summary

• Tourism association urges Lake Region Economic Bloc to suspended all fees and taxes in tourism and hospitality sectors hard-hit by the pandemic.

• Urges industry to focus luring domestic travellers to the Western Kenya tourism circuit of 14 counties.

Fishermen in Lake Victoria.
TOURIST GEMS: Fishermen in Lake Victoria.
Image: ROBERT OMOLLO

The Lake Victoria Tourism Association has urged counties in the Lake Region Economic Bloc to suspend fees and taxes from the tourism and hospitality sector. 

The plea from LVTA comes following the restriction of movement in five counties, tighter curfew hours and other measures to curb the spread of Covid-19.

The measures have hurt many businesses in the tourism sector.

Addressing the press at a Kisumu hotel on Wednesday, LVTA chief executive officer Charles Katara said hotels in the Western Kenya Tourism Circuit lost Sh150 billion in the past year due to the pandemic.

The circuit covers 14 counties.

“The restriction of movement has come at a time when the industry has been working hard to regain its lost glory. Most most businesses experience high numbers of cancellations from both business and leisure travellers,” Katara said.

He said hotels have had cancellations of more than 80 per cent of bookings. Businesses are forced to scale down or close due to few or no customers

The hospitality sector alone has laid of 30 per cent of its employees, he said.

The association pleaded for the stimulus package by the government and the Tourism Fund to rescue struggling lake region businesses.

Robinson Anyal, the Jambo Impala Eco-Lodge manager, urged the hospitality industry to lure domestic travellersto " hidden gems"  in the 42 counties not in lock own.

He said Western Kenya offers excursions in Lake Victoria, Kakamega Forest, agri-tourism in Bomet and Kericho counties, caves and waterfalls in Mt Elgon, game viewing in Ruma National Park and islands in Homa Bay.

The region also has increased flights among Kisumu, Eldoret and Mombasa. They provide easy access to the Coast, Maasai Mara and Tsavo National Paark and other wildlife viewing destinations.

The Lake Victoria Tourism Association has partnered with the county governments in the region to ensure its members and stakeholders receive the Covid-19 jabs.

Industry personnel were given priority for vaccinations, along with healthcare workers, teachers, security personnel and others.

Kenya’s tourism and hospitality industry was recently awarded the  Tourism Safety Seal by the World Tourism Council, which considers Kenya a safe travel destination.

Edited by Kiilu Damaris