Tourist hotels, tour operators close shop in Nakuru county
Thursday, March 26th, 2020
ROY LUMBE @lumbe_roy
Tour and travel companies within Nakuru county have closed shop after reporting up to an 80 per cent reduction in the number of customers due to travel restrictions by the government in a bid to contain the spread of Covid-19.
A spot check in Nakuru town has revealed that many operators have opted to shut their business and send staff home to minimise losses.
Some employees have gone home without pay until the pandemic is contained.
Nakuru Tourism Association chairman David Mwangi said although Nakuru is a Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE) centre, the sector is reeling from an economic meltdown after local and international guests cancelled bookings.
Mwangi said most major hotels within the county are closing, with Sarova Woodlands and Kongoni Resort in Naivasha leading the way due to the tough economic times. “Only five per cent of hotels are in operation,” he said.
At the beginning of the year, the county government of Nakuru had embarked on an ambitious programme to promote tourism to improve revenue colletions and to create jobs for the residents.
“Over the years, we have enjoyed tremendous growth in the tourism sector. However, at the moment we have lost 70 per cent of the industry; hotels are recording nose-diving losses,” he
Tom Kimanzi of Wild Rangers Tours and Travel agency said they have received massive cancellations from local and international tourists.
Speaking on phoni, he said despite being a new entrant in the sector, they were expecting a boom in April before the virus struck.
“Everything is now uncertain as we await further State directives. I appeal to our customers and all Kenyans to stay at home so that we can stop the spread of the virus,” said Kimanzi.
Tourism players in Nakuru now fear that the multi-billion-shilling sector may not recover quickly even after the pandemic ends. Some are mulling staff retrechments due to lack of business.
Mwangi said hotels are closing down to cut costs since without revenue, one cannot implement some of the stringent directives by the government.
“Some of our members have resolved to renovate their premises, but the future remains uncertain,” he said.