By all indications, the industry has had enough of the government’s promises, meetings and task-forces on the tourism revival going by talk by top tourism association officials. They are in a nightmarish situation and accuse the government of paying lip service to the sector’s recovery. The hoteliers will now try to reach out to the markets directly in a desperate attempt to salvage their business.
“We lack commitment from the government. We are now going to bypass government and try to reach out to these new markets. We hope the government will not allow us to move to this state of confusion,”
stated Kenya Association of Hotelkeepers and Caterers (KAHC) Coast Branch chairman Harald Kampa.
Kenya’s tourism industry has been under strain for a while, seeing as tourist numbers have drastically reduced over the last few months. This can be attributed to the recent terrorist activities in the country. Still, this time of the year has always been a crucial for the local tourism industry, and this year has proved tougher than any other seen before.
Peak season for tourism activities often occurs around the later parts of the year. The months of August-December often see hotels and resorts recording impressive numbers. However, all is not rosy as the industry takes hits from both local events and the fact that it is currently off season.
The low tourism in Kenya would usually kick in after April and last until around the first week of August. This year however, it seemed to start as early as February, and the figures have been depressing for most of the part. There was reprieve over the Easter holidays, attributed to local tourists, but even that was short lived.
Jobs have been lost as Hoteliers and tour companies cut costs. An estimated 50,000 people have been relieved of their jobs in the last few months, according to industry insiders. Riding on that, more than 20 hotels have been closed until at least the problems facing the industry subsides and the numbers are back up. Hotels need at least a 60 percent bed occupancy for optimal returns.
The Kenya Association of Hoteliers and Caterers have expressed their worries that if things continue as they are now more jobs will be lost. Bed occupancy in major hotels at the Coast is now below 20 percent and as such they have either trimmed their staff or sent many on unpaid leave until the low season ends.
Matters are no different for the Kenya Association of Tour Operators, who say numbers of tourists requiring their transport services from hotels to attractions have dwindled immensely in the last few months.
The tourism industry employs more than 200,000 people, and the low season blues have been a big blow to the Kenyan brand and the economy as a whole.
“We made efforts to sustain the business hoping that the situation would improve but all indications point to a bleak future. Many of us have dropped rates but we can only lower the rates to a particular extent,” said Mr Kampa.