Hotel industry recovery gains steam, create jobs

Friday, August 6th, 2021 00:00 | By

Despite concerns over new Coronavirus (Covid-19) Delta variant recovery in the hospitality sector gained steam in July buoyed by school holidays and World Rally Championships (WRC) pulling up employment in the sector to 62 per cent.

An estimated 96 per cent of the sampled hotels are now operating compared to 81 per cent in April, the latest Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) sector survey shows.

“This mainly reflected continued recovery of the sector after the lifting of the Covid-19 containment measures on May 2,” the banking sector regulator said in the report.

The survey findings show that the overall employment levels in the sector improved to 62 per cent of the pre-Covid-19 levels (February 2020) in July.

Hotels recalled or employed new workers after the scale down in April 2021 occasioned by the enhanced Covid-19 restrictions. The average bed occupancy, utilisation of restaurants and conference services have also improved in Nairobi and Mombasa.

Local guests continue to support activity in the sector during the pandemic period, accounting for 80 per cent and 81 per cent of the total clientele for accommodation and restaurant services, respectively.

The survey is part of the CBK’s proactive management of the monetary policy by among other things carrying out surveys and forecasts to predict policy decisions.

“On average, under the prevailing conditions, 13 per cent of respondent hotels expected to attain normal (pre-Covid) levels of operations in 2021,” the study says.

Hotel bookings

Forward hotel bookings have improved in line with a gradual recovery of the sector. In the survey, respondents were requested to indicate whether their enterprises were operating in June and July 2021. 

Of the sampled hotels 96 per cent were in operations in July, up from 94 per cent in May and 81 per cent in April.

In particular, all the respondent hotels in the rest of the country and 92 per cent of hotels in Nairobi are in operation.

A few hotels in Nairobi that are still closed cited low business as the main reason, since they largely depend on foreign business.

Nevertheless, respondents reported concerns and risks related to the resurgence and increase in Covid-19 infections to the sectors’ operations The level of operations of hotels was assessed in terms of accommodation (bed occupancy), restaurant and conference services. 

In particular, respondents were requested to indicate, on a scale of 0 to 100 per cent, the level of hotel operations in terms of utilisation of bed capacity, restaurant and conference services in June and July. 

On average, bed occupancy increased to 30 in June and July, respectively, from 19 per cent in April.

Bed occupancy in hotels in Nairobi and Mombasa improved in July, while the occupancy

in the rest of the country declined. 

The occupancy levels in hotels in Nairobi and Nakuru counties was boosted by the World Rally championship in June.

Hotels in Nakuru County reported that they were fully booked during this event. In addition, the end of financial year expenditure by the national and county governments boosted hotels operations in the rest of the country in June.

Hotels in Mombasa reported improved business in July 2021, mainly attributed to the July school holiday and the high season for tourists. 

More employees

Most hotels operating in Nakuru county reported hiring more employees in June, during the WRC event. 

Hotels in Mombasa engaged casual staff to meet demand, while also keeping others on rotational basis or shifts in line with demand.

 The government through the Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife has launched a nationwide Covid-19 vaccination drive for frontline personnel in the tourism and hospitality sector  so as create confidence among visitors and boost recovery of the travel industry.

Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala on Tuesday issued revised Covid-19 guidelines for hospitality industry which visitors to the country will have to adhere to.

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