Hotel industry on way back to pre-Covid days, survey shows

Tuesday, April 5th, 2022 00:09 | By
Fairmont The Norfolk porter and Accor Kenya Country general manager Mehdi Morad (right) officially reopens the iconic Nairobi hotel, yesterday. PD/JOHN OCHIENG

The level of employment in the hotel industry was at 83 per cent of the pre-Covid levels in March 2022 and is expected to hit 100 per cent by the end of the year, a Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) survey shows.

Conducted between March 15 and 18, the survey says to assess the recovery of the sector following a drop in reported Covid-19 cases, most of the workers who have come on stream during the period are, however, casuals.

The respondents said they reduce the casual employees when the demand declines and hire them as business increases.

Recovery in the hotel industry is being driven largely by domestic tourists with local tourists accounting for over 70 percent of the visitors, the survey findings show.

Reduced uncertainties

“Forward hotel bookings for the period March to May 2022 are strong indicating reduced uncertainties. Majority of the respondent hotels expect the sector to attain pre-Covid-19 levels of operations before the end of the year,” said the survey.

CBK Governor Patrick Njoroge said hotels do not yet feel confident that they can hire people on a permanent basis. 

On average, under the prevailing conditions, 21 per cent of respondent hotels have already attained the pre-Covid levels of operations while another 37 per cent expected to attain these levels by the end of the year.  According to the survey, respondents were requested to indicate whether their enterprises were operating in February and March 2022. All the respondent hotels reported to have been operating during the period. 

While there were a few hotels in Nairobi that remain closed due to reasons unrelated to Covid-19, two key hotels in Nairobi confirmed their plans to reopen in April and May. Njoroge identified major hotels that had shut down and are set to reopen as the Norfolk and Radisson Blue hotels.

“We appreciate that there are some others that are about to open, for instance, the Radisson Blue in Nairobi will be open shortly I believe April to May,  and also the Norfolk will be open around that time,” said Njoroge while commenting on the survey of hotels.

The Nairobi’s iconic Fairmont The Norfolk reopened its doors to the public yesterday after the facility shut down for over 21 months amid the coronavirus crisis.

“Employment is edging up, we are in the 80s, but there is some way to go. We shall see these numbers go up in the April Easter holiday, especially by the walk in clients,” said Njoroge.

The Norfolk and Radisson Blue were among the major players in the industry that were forced to shut their doors due to the tough business environment caused by the pandemic.

Others that closed were the Intercontinental Hotel, Jacaranda. The survey found that most of the operators in the sector are optimistic of an improving business environment.

The iconic Fairmont The Norfolk hotel officially opened its doors to the public yesterday following months of renovation. The hotel under the Accor Group said it has so far reinstated 70 per cent of its employees whom it had laid off when it shut down two years ago.

Kenya Country General Manager Mehdi Morad (pictured) said they have had to restructure the facility to meet new customer demands.

“The hotel and Accor regional team have worked closely together to ensure they provide the guests with exceptional services and facilities in line with the luxe positioning of the Fairmont brand including a new Food and Beverage concept in order to meet with customers evolving needs” he said.

The hotel has often been described as a hidden gem with alluring charm and elegant contemporary design that offers guests a feel of relaxation, sense of belonging, and ownership that is ideal for meetings, chilling, partying and an exceptional culinary experience.

Foreign exchange earners

With Covid-19 epidemic numbers steadily dropping, Kenya expects the tourism sector, one of its top foreign exchange earners to bring in Sh173 billion this year. The notable landmark dating back to 1904 has often played a pivotal role in Kenya’s historical legacy and hospitality.

The Norfolk is part of the Fairmont Collection, together with Mount Kenya and Mara.

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