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Western Kenya hoteliers seek tax reliefs to prop up tourism sector

By Noven Owiti
Friday, April 9th, 2021
Tax reliefs to prop up tourism sector.
In summary
    • Movement restrictions has had an immense impact on the tourism and hospitality sector in the region, with most businesses experiencing high numbers of cancellations from both business and leisure travellers.
    • Hospitality industry in Western Kenya circuit which comprises Kisumu, Siaya, Homa Bay, Kisii, Nyamira, Kericho, Vihiga, Bungoma, Trans Nzoia, Busia, Kakamega, Migori and Nandi counties, has lost about 80 per cent of its revenue in the last one year due to the pandemic impact.
    • Players said lack of awareness on access to the stimulus funds as a factor that has hindered the region’s hoteliers from benefiting, adding that they have embarked on collaborative sensitisation exercise to correct the anomaly.

Western Kenya hospitality industry is reeling from huge business losses following a recent government directive restricting movement in five counties.

Consequently, players in the Western Kenya Tourism Circuit that covers 14 counties also appealed to county governments in the Lake Region Economic Bloc to consider suspending collection of levies from tourism and hospitality sector until business rebounds.

Lake Victoria Tourism Association (LVTA) chairman Robinson Anyal says hotels in the region have suffered huge losses since imposition of travel restrictions in the five counties.

President Uhuru Kenyatta in a move aimed at curbing the spread of Covid-19 announced restriction of movement in and out of Nairobi, Machakos, Kiambu, Nakuru and Kajiado counties on March 26.

 The hospitality business within the region has continued to bear the brunt of the latest Covid-19 directives leading to many cancellations of bookings and businesses.

“Most hotels within the Western Kenya circuit are currently recording below 15 per cent bed occupancy since the new measures took effect late last month,” he said while addressing the press in Kisumu yesterday.

Consequently, he said most of the facilities have been compelled to scale down operations to 70 per cent workforce as they struggle to stay afloat.

Some hotels, he said, have closed certain wings in the latest operation adjustment, adding that majority of the facilities have sent their staff on annual leave and pending leave days.

“A number of the hotels were operating at between 20 and 30 per cent occupancy on full resumption of business but this has drastically reduced because of the overall effects of the new restrictions on the hospitality industry,” Anyal said.

Hardest hit

He said conference business which is a key driver of the region’s hotel industry is the hardest hit by the movement restrictions to and out of the five counties.

The region, Anyal said depends heavily on Nairobi as the source market particularly for business tourism, noting that major conveners of the conferences come from the capital city.

“Hospitality business at the moment is not sustainable, we are only remaining afloat to protect our investments,” added Anyal.

Western Kenya circuit comprises Kisumu, Siaya, Homa Bay, Kisii, Nyamira, Kericho, Vihiga, Bungoma, Trans Nzoia, Busia, Kakamega, Migori and Nandi counties.

Charles Kataro, the association’s CEO said the movement restrictions has had an immense impact on the tourism and hospitality sector in the region. 

“This is coming at a time when the industry has been working hard to regain its lost glory with most businesses experiencing high numbers of cancellations from both business and leisure travelers,” he said.