Hotel occupancy has fallen to its lowest in the recent past as the government’s guidelines meant to contain the spread of Covid-19 result in a sharp decline of tourist numbers, and limited movements and fear of crowded space cripple restaurants.
A spot check by the Business Daily showed that hotels in tourist-dependent Coast region were recording occupancy as low as 20 per cent compared to more than 75 per cent around the same time last year.
In Nairobi, restaurants have switched to offering home delivery services to arrest a dip in walk-in clients while setting up sanitary measures and promoting safety distancing to give assurance to clients.
“Business is bad. I have seen a 50 per cent drop in clients and although we have put delivery in place it is not picking up since most of the clients are not used to it yet. If the situation persists I may be forced to close some of the branches,” city eatery Café Deli’s managing director, Obado Obadoh, said.
Sankara Hotel PR and marketing manager Keijah Bekah said business had dropped significantly since the government issued the directive limiting movements. She said the hotel management will soon make a decision on their operations.
“We have beefed up sanitisers and temperature checks and implemented government safety guidelines but traffic has still dipped,” she said.
Diani Reef manager Jotham Mwang’ombe said client numbers cannot sustain the staff and that they will be forced to send some of them home.
Kenya Association of Hotel Keepers and Caterers (KAHC) executive officer Sam Ikwaye said there is need to start planning for the future of the industry to cushion the investors.
“The industry needs more than six months to recover since it depends on advance bookings. There is need to deal with the situation at the moment if we have to recover on time. In the next one week, with the same situation, we shall not be having any international tourist in our hotels,” said Mr Ikwaye.
Travellers Hotel sales manager Bonface Wafula said the government should consider a tax waiver to hotels.
“At the moment we are operating at 29 per cent compared to 89 per cent in March last year and the numbers are going down every day,” said Mr Wafula, adding the government should consider a stimulus package to jump-start the industry.