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Hoteliers want tourism Covid-19 protocols re-examined

Tourism hotel operators have appealed to Tourism and Wildlife Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala to convene an urgent stakeholders meeting to relook into the recent changes to the Magical Kenya tourism and travel health and safety protocols on health.

Kenya Association of Hotel Keepers and Caterers (KAHC) said there is an urgent need to review the directive for the sake of the revival of the sector that has stagnated since the Covid-19 breakout worldwide.

Beach hotel and Mombasa County staff workers during first Saturday of every month beach cleaning exercise organised by Kenya Association of Hotel Keepers and Caterers (KAHC). Photo by Galgalo Bocha

“We have a good overview and projections for the business in the quarter of the year. We hoped we shall announce to the market our new offers and welcome back our clients because we had anticipated for the resumption of businesses,” said KAHC Chief Executive Officer, Dr Sam Ikwaye during a press conference at Mombasa Beach Hotel.

Ikwaye said the hotels serving both foreign and local visitors have fully complied with the tourism protocol alongside that of the Ministry of Health.

“Germany has recently removed Kenya from the red flag list and that is because of the measures we have embraced. Hotels have invested heavily in complying with these protocols and therefore, any directive that is given should be able to take cognizance of the compliance level we have actually put in place,” he added.

The KAHC officer further appealed to the ministry and Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) to consider their plea with a view of relooking into the directive that they said caused cancellation of bookings across the sector.

“Our request and demand is that policymakers, re-look at the directives, and we are willing and ready to sit down with them, particularly they should come down at the Coast, so that they are able to see how we have complied, the challenges we are facing and the social effects of some of these directives,” added Ikwaye.

The hotel operators further said besides the strict compliance of the protocols, their hotels are regularly inspected by the county public health officers.

“We have no problem complying with the directives, in fact, KTB had revised the protocols and all hotels complied with those protocols. The challenges we are having are the new directives given without considering our challenges,” added KAHC.

The hoteliers said their hotels are currently operating between 30-40 per cent bed capacities adding that there is need for urgent intervention measures to put the sector stay afloat.

“We are not calling for a hundred per cent bed capacity. We are just seeking a dialogue with the ministry and KTB to find ways we can remain in business and continue to pay our staff and repay loans,” they observed.

Kenya Safaris Lodges and Hotel (KSLH) General Manager Joseph Ndunda added the sector deserves the national government support through right policies that help it fully recover from the impact of the pandemic.

“There is no social distancing and adherence to the health protocols in the public transport sector and supermarkets, but when we come to the hospitality industry, it’s like, we are victims of all mistakes done by others,” added Mr Ndunda.

Severin Sea Lodge General Manager Tuva Mwahunga said 2300 out of 10,000 hotel workers in Mombasa County have received the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccinations and they have started receiving the second dose.

“We recalled a third of the staff back after resumption of business. That is about 3000 staff and Mombasa County was able to extend 3000 doses to us and of this, we were able to vaccinate 2300 for the first round and all of them are receiving the second round of the vaccinations,” he said.

He said there is no single Covid-19 case that has been traced to the tourism hotels due to “hospital level of hygiene” they had put in place to ensure safety of local and foreign visitors.

By Galgalo Bocha

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