Lake Victoria Tourism Association (LVTA-K) has appealed to the Counties within the Lake Region Economic bloc to suspend collection of license fees and other taxes from the tourism and hospitality sector in the area during the restriction of movement period.
In a move to curb the spread of Covid-19 virus, President Uhuru Kenyatta announced the movement restrictions in and out of five counties in his latest address that immensely affected many businesses in the tourism sector.
Addressing the press at a Kisumu hotel on Wednesday, LVTA-K Chief Executive Officer Charles Katara revealed that hotels in the Western Kenya Tourism Circuit that covers 14 Counties have suffered losses of Sh150 billion in the past year due to Covid-19 pandemic.
“The restriction of movement has come at a time when the industry has been working hard to regain its lost glory with most businesses experiencing high numbers of cancellations from both business and leisure travelers,” stated Katara, adding that hotels have experienced over 80 per cent cancellations of bookings.
He added that businesses are compelled to scale down their operations due to low or no business at all.
Massive job losses have been witnessed in the region as the hospitality sector has laid off 30 per cent of personnel in the referred period.
The Association pleaded for the stimulus package provided by the government and the Tourism Fund to rescue the struggling businesses in the lake region.
Mr Robinson Anyal, the Jambo Impala Eco- Lodge manager urged the stakeholders in the hospitality industry to leverage on the available opportunities to lure domestic travelers to the hidden gems within the 42 counties not affected by the lockdown.
“The Western Kenya Tourism Chapter offers domestic travelers various opportunities to discover, explore and experience the hidden gems: excursions in Lake Victoria, visit to Kakamega Forest, Agri-tourism in Bomet & Kericho, Caves & waterfalls in Mt Elgon, Game activities in Ruma National Park or the amazing islands in Homabay County,” said Anyal.
The region also boasts of an increased number of direct flights between Kisumu, Eldoret, and Mombasa which offers easy access to the Coast, Maasai Mara, Tsavo, and other great wildlife destinations around the country.
The LVTA-K has partnered with the County Governments within the region to ensure that its members and stakeholders receive the Covid-19 jab as the industry personnel were given priority for vaccinations along with the frontline staff, healthcare workers and teachers.
The Kenya’s tourism and hospitality industry has shown its commitment to adhere strictly to all Covid-19 protocols and was recently accorded the “Tourism Safety Seal” by the World Tourism Council, which considers Kenya a safe travel destination.
By Robert Ojwang’