Kenya: Hoteliers urge relaxation of Covid rules to save industry

Hoteliers in Mombasa County want to relax the Covid-19 rules and say this will save the industry from impending collapse.

Sam Ikwaye, head of the Kenyan Association of Hotel Owners and Caterers, said the hospitality industry was under threat.

“We need to sit down with officials from the ministries of health and tourism to find a way forward for the industry. The whole of 2020 has been a wasted year and 2021 is no better, ”said Dr. Ikwaye and accused the government policymakers of turning a blind eye to their plight.

“We urge policymakers to relax Covid-19 guidelines to save the sector,” he said. His feelings were confirmed by Joseph Ndunda, general manager of Kenya Safari Lodges and Hotels Limited, who said the Covid-19 rules are harsh on the hospitality industry.

“Other sectors are functioning normally. There is no social distancing on the trains, even in economy class such as supermarkets and shopping malls, ”said Ndunda. He called on the government to support the industry.

Tuva Mwahunga, General Manager of Severin Sea Lodge, said around 2,400 hotel employees had already received their first Covid-19 vaccinations, hoping to vaccinate the rest soon.

“Since November last year, there has not been a single Covid-19 case that has been traced back to our hotels. This tells you that hotels do everything according to the rules,” said Mwahunga.

Dr. Ikwaye said the industry had forecast bed occupancy of 70 to 80 percent for the final quarter of the year, but that is now impossible.

“Our predictions were that we would see customers on August 1st. We had very good forecasts for the fourth quarter of the year, unlike in April when we lost business over Easter due to an increase in Covid-19 numbers, ”he said.

Face challenges

“With the latest guidelines from the Najib Balala Tourism Cabinet, we now face challenges,” said Dr.

“Tourism, travel and hospitality businesses must ensure that tourists and guests wear appropriate, high-quality personal protective equipment, except when they are in their room, while dining or privately with physical distancing in a hotel garden or on the beach,” Balala said in a press conference in Nairobi on Tuesday last week.

Restaurants and eateries serving tourists have been instructed to operate in strict compliance with the Covid-19 protocols.

The new rules that the CS has introduced include the issuing of valid digital QR codes for vaccinations, the ban on self-service for guests and the use of electronic menus.

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