Relief for hoteliers as season peaks after covid-19 limbo

Counties Editor's Pick Kilifi Tourism

Hoteliers in Kilifi County are set for economic relief after recording capacity bookings majorly from local tourists for the month of December almost 2 years after the Covid-19 limbo.

The tourism sector had been paralyzed by the Covid-19 pandemic but there is a glow of hope as local tourists plan to flock to the region for the festive season.

The hoteliers led by Silver Palm Resort Manager Michael Otieno said the boom is due to tourists’ confidence after the Covid-19 vaccination drive by the government.

“We have seen an upsurge in the number of bookings as we head to the busy period. Our beds occupancy is already at 80% and still, people are booking. In relation to last year, this year bookings are coming in much,” he said.

Otieno added that 90% of the tourists are Kenyans, a trend that has been contributed by a decline in international travelers due to restrictions on movement brought by Covid-19.

“This December, as an institution, we have received bookings up to January next year. We have groups of 50 to 80 people that have confirmed and we also have bookings by individuals,” said James Baya, General Manager Watamu SDA resort.

Tour companies have asserted that the tourism sector is highly promising because they have received numerous inquiries and helped the tourists in booking hotels of their choice for the month from December to February next year.

Bianca Nero Coast Holidays Company Director Christopher Karisa expressed his joy saying that he has been overwhelmed by Kenyan’s enthusiasm to promote domestic tourism and occupying the space that once seemed to belong to international visitors.

“I would like to thank Kenyans for recognizing that there is domestic tourism. So far bookings are not bad. I have some bookings that I do not know where to place them because the hotels I manage are all full such that some bookings are pending,” he said.

The average length of stay in the holiday facilities has also been reported longer as tourists place their bookings much earlier.

The business community has also expressed their hope that the festive month marks a great economic recovery stressing that they have started raising their daily sale of foodstuffs in their stalls unlike in the past few months.

Ruth Waithera who owns cereals and vegetable stalls at Oloitiptip market in Kilifi town said she has received orders to supply fruits and vegetables to two local hotels during this month of December.

“We are optimistic as the business community that we are headed for a better change after tears of suffering. Following the opening up of all sectors by the government, we can rest assured that we will have enough food to put on the table for our families and at the same time boost our incomes,” she said.

Kilifi County was one of the most affected counties in the tourism sector after Covid-19 was reported followed by restrictions that led to dormancy and closure of hotels, leaving hoteliers into an economic crisis as they sent workers home.

The region has been a major tourist destination because of its relaxed atmosphere, serene beaches, and exciting water activities along the Indian Ocean shores. Following the government efforts to control the covid-19 virus infections through vaccination, the industry is set to become operational again.

By Jackson Msanzu and Harrison Yeri

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