Hundreds of workers in the hospitality industry in the western tourism circuit have been sent home after prime hotels in Nyanza and Western shut down operations this week, pinched by the adverse effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
Kamel Park in Kisii was among the first to suspend all operations, followed on Wednesday by The Grand Royal Swiss Hotel in Kisumu and ACK Guesthouse managed by the Anglican Church of Kenya in Homa Bay.
Sovereign Hotel in Kisumu closed down on Monday.
More hotels are expected to follow suit as a majority have scaled down and sent staff packing on unpaid leave.
Best Western Hotel manager Leopold King said the supply chain within the industry has seriously been affected.
In Siaya County, Distinction Hotel, Siaya County Club, Camunya in Ugunja, Savannah, Chez Mbago, Pride Kings and Switel in Bondo have downsized their workforce.
David Omolo, the general manager of the 59-bed Siaya County Club, told Business Daily on Wednesday that 21 staff were sent on leave after occupancy fell from 70 percent to just one or two guests.
In Kisii County, Kamel Park Hotel proprietor Harun Kamau said they received their last group of visitors on Sunday.
“We have a total of 48 staff and we sent some on leave with half pay. They will resume when things normalise,” he said.
“We are greatly affected by this. But there is no other option. We also do not want to endanger our lives.”
According to Western Kenya Hospitality Leaders Association chairman Robinson Anyal, more than 90 percent of hotels are not in operation and expressed fears that some more could close in the coming days.
“We have a few clients doing takeaway with about 10 to 20 percent workers in security and cleaning reporting,” said Mr Anyal. In Vihiga, at Sosa Hotel in the outskirts of Mbale town, the county headquarters, half of the employees have been sent on unpaid leave.
Kakamega Guest House manager Fred Kamadi said only five people had booked. The hotel has 70 rooms.
At Homa Bay Tourist Hotel, the management is contemplating a pay cut for its 70 employees if the situation persists.
Most of the Homa Bay big hotels are frequented by tourists visiting Ruma National Park and beaches of Lake Victoria.
Caroline Wafula, Ruth Mbula, Benson Amadala, Dickens Wasonga, Derick Luvega, George Odiwuor, Elizabeth Ojina and Victor Raballa
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