Hotels and other tourist establishments at the Coast are determined to stay afloat and overcome the impacts of Covid-19 pandemic.
The global health emergency has adversely affected the hotel industry with business and holiday travel virtually grinding to a halt, forcing many establishments to either close down or reduce their workforce.
Most of the hotels are staring at further losses during the off-peak season between the months of April to July following the lockdown of five key counties which provides a significant number of domestic tourists.
The Government last month imposed partial lockdown in Nairobi, Kajiado, Kiambu, Nakuru and Machakos and declared them disease infected areas following a surge in the number of Covid-19 cases.
Since the outbreak of the coronavirus, the tourism industry has largely been sustained by local tourists from different parts of the country.
Mombasa and other coastal areas are the preferred holiday destinations for many Kenyans and foreign visitors to savor their beautiful sandy beaches stretching from the South to the North Coast and the tropical ambience.
However, the increased number of charter flights bringing tourists from traditional and new markets provides fresh hope to the industry.
Tourism Cabinet Secretary (CS), Najib Balala, said charter flights will play an important role in boosting tourism numbers in the country, during the challenging Covid-19 pandemic period.
Balala said this over the weekend at the Moi International Airport in Mombasa, during the reception of the first-ever flight from Kiev in Ukraine to Kenya.
The Chief Executive Officer of Kenya Association of Hotel Owners and Caterers (KAHC), Coast Branch, Sam Ikwae, hailed the County Government of Mombasa for the initiative following a partnership between Mombasa and Kiev.
“Despite restrictions on global traveling due to Covid-19, we still receive substantial enquiries from different places and we look forward to more visitors,” said Ikwae, during an interview with Kenya News Agency.
He said such initiatives must be encouraged as part of the efforts to revive the hospitality industry which has been badly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The flight operated by Bees Airline, a Ukrainian Charter Company, brought 189 passengers who included 21 travel agents visiting the country to sample her tourist products with a view to market Kenya as a destination of choice.
“The arrival of the flight was a clear testimony that Kenya is penetrating markets that are deemed not traditional sources,” said Balala.
The CS said he was delighted Kenya was attracting visitors from different markets, saying the local products resonate well with the needs of consumers from the Eastern European region.
“Last month we received the first-ever Romanian charter flight with 200 visitors. The flight has had five rotations into the country with another one expected later this month,” added Balala.
At the same time, Ikwae said most of the hotels will close down during the low season to advance vaccination exercise and improve their facilities in readiness for the high season in the month of July.
The National Government has put in place supporting response and recovery measures to help the tourism industry which has severely been damaged by the pandemic.
The Government Spokesperson Col (Rtd), Cyrus Oguna, said the State is out to provide a range of support and relief assistance for the country’s ailing tourism businesses.
Oguna said the government has already set aside Sh.2 billion to support renovation of tourist hotels and the restructuring of business operations by actors in the industry.
The Sh.2 billion is in the form of soft loans to be administered by the Tourism Finance Corporation (TFC) to the hotel establishments.
He also said Sh1 billion is being dedicated to community conservancies under the Kenya Wildlife Service to support their activities.
By Mohamed Hassan