TOURISM AND HOSPITALITY

Vaccine raises hopes for travel, hospitality industry as Easter beckons

Sector predicts 15 to 20% bookings, accommodation towards Easter holidays.

In Summary

• The arrival of the AstraZeneca vaccine has seen travel and hospitality industry start preparing for a rebound in demand following a historically horrible year

•Hasnain Noorani said restaurants and eating points are expected to be buoyed as the vaccination program continues to be rolled out in the country.

PrideInn Group Managing Director Hasnain Noorani
PrideInn Group Managing Director Hasnain Noorani
Image: PMS GROUP

The ongoing Covid-19 vaccination across the country has raised hopes for the travel and hospitality industry.

The sector on Monday said the arrival of the AstraZeneca vaccine has seen the travel and hospitality industry start preparing for a rebound in demand following a historically horrible year.

PrideInn Group Managing Director Hasnain Noorani in a session with journalists said restaurants and eating points are expected to be buoyed as the vaccination programme continues to be rolled out in the country.

Noorani however said industry stakeholders still predict that 2021 will be a rough year for the sector and full recovery could be a year away.

 “The vaccine is expected to be a significant boost for the tourism and hospitality industry, which has been badly affected by border closures, travel restrictions, curfew and social distancing measures related to Covid-19," he said.

He said the sector predicts an increase of between 15 per cent to 20 per cent bookings and accommodation as the country heads to Easter holidays.

The news has raised hopes of a quick recovery from both the health-related challenges and the economic impacts of the pandemic.

 “With the vaccine allowing for greater movement and trade, we are hopeful that it will lead to a quicker rebound in tourism activity and have a ripple effect, “he added

Noorani said prior to the release of the vaccine, people have been cautious about leisure travel which has seen many facilities closed indefinitely.

"The sector will definitely recover but not without the government’s support," he said.

 While a vaccine will be key to any resumption in mass tourism, industry players say other measures will also be crucial to a recovery.

Kenya Coast Tourism Association chairman Victor Shitakha said the priority of the tourism industry is to get people traveling and doing business and events again safely.

He said this can be achieved by giving the government confidence that systematic Covid-19 prevention measures are possible and reliable prior to having a vaccine.

Shitakha said although the situation eased with withdrawal of movement restrictions,  many parts of the world are now experiencing a second spike in coronavirus cases, leading to further restrictions.

 “As we all know, the vaccine program will take a while to roll out to all parts of the country, so pre- and post-vaccine programmes should be concurrently available,” Shitakha said.

In addition to the fiscal constraints on households, some tourism-related companies may find it difficult to return to business after spending much of 2020 and 2021 either closed or operating severely below capacity.