Leaders and hoteliers in Kilifi County have assured tourists visiting the Coastal region of their health safety.
They said all hotels and restaurants in the region that would be open during the festive seasons had been inspected and found to have adhered to Ministry of Health protocols and guidelines to prevent the spread of Coronavirus (Covid-19).
The Chairperson of the Kenya Association of Hotel Keepers and Caterers, North Coast Branch, Ms Maureen Awuor and Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi said all hotels that had reopened had meticulously adhered to the protocols and that guests therefore had no cause to worry.
“What I can assure the clients that are coming down to our region is that all the hotels that are operating have ensured that they are following the right protocols that have been laid down and we assure them of their safety during their stay with us,’’ Ms Awuor told journalists Monday.
She however said most of the hotels were not yet open because they largely depend on international tourists, who have not been coming to the country due to lockdowns in their respective countries as a result of Covid-19.
“Most of the hoteliers were thinking that at least by December, the guests would start steaming in, but this did not happen because of the lockdowns in so many of the countries,” she lamented.
Ms. Awuor, who is also the General Manager of the Ocean Beach Resort in Malindi, said even the hotels that have been depending on the domestic market did not have full projections due to fear that the government could impose inter-county lockdowns to stem the spread of Covid-19.
“Most of the hotels are still at 40 to 50 percent of the projections. This is due to the fact that we are having this conversation about inter-county lockdowns. People are booking but they are not ready to put in their money and normally during Christmas, bookings are confirmed with deposits,” she said.
She said that during the Christmas period, most hotels buy goods early to avoid the issue of out of stock, and wondered what would happen to them and the clients that had already paid in case of a lockdown.
“During Christmas, most companies tend to close early and we normally buy things in advance so that we don’t get issues of out of stock. If a lockdown happens, it means the hotels are going to pay back money to their clients. But what will happen with the goods that we have bought? Are we going to return them to the suppliers?” she wondered.
Governor Kingi on his part confirmed that health teams had inspected all the hotels that have reopened and that adequate measures had been put in to ensure the health safety of guests.
“What I want to tell all those wishing to visit Kilifi and Malindi for Christmas festivities is that all hotel owners in Kilifi, Malindi and Mtwapa have laid down adequate measures to sure that when you come to their hotels you are safe,” he claimed.
He said that after talking to all stakeholders in the hospitality industry, health teams had gone to inspect the hotels and the strategies laid down by the luxurious tourist hotels in the county were adequate to protect any tourist that visits this area.
A survey by the Kenya News Agency in Malindi and Watamu however revealed that most hotels that depend solely on international tourists were still closed more than four months since the government allowed hotels and restaurants to re-open.
At the Jacaranda hotel in Watamu, hotel owner Pasquale Tirito, said he was anticipating guests this week, although he was not expecting enough bed occupancy to pay what he has invested to have the hotel reopen.
“We are reopening for the few guests that have booked with us, although there is no justification at all. We do not expect to return the amount of money we have invested to reopen, but we are doing this for our clients,” he said.
He said his hotel had followed all the protocols, including having about 100 staff members tested for Covid-19, and expressed hope that the health team would issue the required certificate to allow for reopening ahead of December 16 when the hotel expects to have its first guests.
But like other hotels in the region, Mr. Tirito said he had received bookings from domestic tourists since the traditional markets in Europe were still on lockdowns.
He however expressed optimism that the industry would be vibrant again by August 2021 with the development of Covid-19 vaccines.
Jackson Muriithi, the Marketing Manager of Safina Beach Hotel in Watamu said the hotel had already been reopened, albeit with skeletal staff, but the future was not clear as very few bookings had been received.
Bodaboda operators appealed for the reopening of the hotels so that their business could also kick-start, saying the closure of hotels in the Jacaranda area had made life difficult.
“We also ask the government to come to the aid of the residents of this area, which solely depends on tourism,” said George Charo, a bodaboda operator in the area.
By Emmanuel Masha