The hospitality sector in western Kenya is preparing for gradual take off in business following resumption of local air travel yesterday and lifting of restrictions of movement in and out of the Nairobi, Mombasa and Mandera counties.
Western Kenya Hospitality Leaders’ Association chairman Robinson Anyal said the move to ease some of the virus containment restrictions came as a reprieve for the sector.
Mr Anyal is optimistic the region would record improvement in the coming days, especially in domestic tourism.
The Kenya Airports Authority has put in place several measures including health screening, operational hygiene, security screening and social distancing.
Apart from elaborate security checks-up, airline passengers will have to undergo a thorough mandatory Covid-19 screening while at the airport.
The new norms include wearing masks, hand washing, and observing social distancing in a bid to curb the spread of Coronavirus.
Safarilink Manager Gaudencia Rengo told Business Daily that already people have started making inquiries and booking for flights.
“Though there are few bookings, we anticipate the numbers will increase with time. Usually the peak is over the weekends (Thursday to Monday), that’s when people make a lot of movement,” said Ms Rengo.
Mr Anyal pointed out that the move could encourage facilities that had not resumed business to open as they anticipate a gradual recovery.
“The hospitality industry directly relies on human traffic to thrive. We are likely to experience some business boom that comes with movement of people,” said Mr Anyal.
The association chairman noted that hotels in Western Kenya are gradually reopening, hoping to be back to full operation later this month as they embark on the recovery path.
“A number of our hotels are yet to reopen. We anticipate most of them to will record low business volumes in the early stages of reopening,” he added, while urging hoteliers to keenly adhere to Ministry of Health protocols on containing the spread of Coronavirus to avoid the risk of being closed down.
According to Mr Anyal, it may take a little longer for the industry to fully recover from the pandemic impact.
The region has borne the brunt of the virus effects on hospitality businesses, that saw the closure of nearly all hotels and suspension of social events.
Most of the hotels in Western Kenya closed down indefinitely in the wake of the biting effects of Covid-19 on the hospitality sector and government directives that required them to suspend business in containment measures.
Joshua Otieno, Kisumu’s St. John’s Manor hotel manager, said lifting of the travel restrictions has given the industry a glimpse of hope in their operations.
He said resumption of domestic flights and the planned international flights will breathe life back into the industry.
Mr Otieno said hoteliers are optimistic the industry will get back to its feet ahead of the summer holidays.
“We believe lifting the travel restrictions will have direct positive influence on the sector’s business performance. Accommodation could improve overtime,” he explains, noting that his facility will soon be opening its branches which had shutdown.