The hospitality and aviation sectors have been the worst hit by the pandemic. And as the Covid-19 woes begin to subside, the two sectors which are critical pillars of the economy are looking for ways to get back on track.
Players and economic experts say it will take a multi-pronged approach and extended period to fully revive the two sectors.
One of the strategies the industries are now adopting is working together to leverage on their respective strengths as they seek to climb out of the deep financial holes caused mainly by the measures instituted to curb the spread of the pandemic
Hotels at the Coast are partnering with local airlines to woo domestic tourists and revive the sector that is on its knees.
The hospitality sector that has been completely paralysed by the pandemic leading to closure of tourist hotels is banking on domestic tourism and flights to turn around their fortunes.
The global lockdowns grounded the international airlines, cutting off tourists who are the hotels’ key source of revenues. This, according to some estimates, has led to loss of Sh82 billion since the pandemic struck.
The gloom and doom is however gradually lifting as restrictions imposed to mitigate the spread of the virus are eased as part of opening the economy.
Weekends have particularly become progressively busy for hotels as more local tourists visit hospitality facilities along the Coast.
Tourism players led by Kenya Coast Working Group Chair (KCWG) chair r Hasnain Noorani said the partnership between hotels and local airlines is crucial in efforts to revive the two worst hit sectors.
“This is a creative and viable way to entice customers and ease our guests burden, making their trips seamless and memorable. We also want to boost Meetings Incentives Conferencing and Exhibition (MICE), with expectations of seeing occupancy levels increase by half during the coronavirus pandemic,” Mr Noorani said in a statement.
The Kenya Association of Hotelkeepers and Caterers (KAHC) said the strategy is aimed at giving clients good deals in a bid to woo more people to travel and breathe new life into the two industries.
“It will synchronise product offering and facility providers. It’s a good strategy in such times. Ultimately it pushes the numbers and gives the clients a better deal. It will also boost services for Standard Gauge Railway, airlines and hotels,” said KAHC, Coast Executive Dr Sam Ikwaye.
With the coronavirus curve flattening and the economy opening up, the hoteliers are adjusting to the ‘new normal’ in their operations.
A section of players are however strkining a cautious note, saying that although the situation is beginning to take a positive turn, it will take a while before business reaches pre-Covid times.
A number of hotels at the Coast are yet to reopen due to lack of international tourists as the effects of the pandemic continue to be felt. But the stakeholders are pegging their hopes on domestic tourism to boost the sector.
“We have seen the need to offer our guests coming to our Nairobi hotels and those going to our Mombasa hotels flexible travel options. We are offering fantastic special rates for all our hotels inclusive of flight options from now on,” Mr Noorani said.
This comes as Tourism and Wildlife Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala urged county governments to establish tourism products that will be utilised by both local and international tourists.
Mr Balala called on the 47 governors to play a major role in spurring the sector that is reeling from Covid-19 pandemic.
“Counties should take advantage, come together and establish products that are going to be utilised by our local and international tourists. It is important for us to create jobs all over the country by developing tourism in county governments,” Mr Balala said while marking World Tourism Day whose theme was ‘Tourism and Rural Development’.
The CS further encouraged Kenyans to visit tourism destinations in order to revive the sector faster.
“We want to encourage domestic tourism and that is why we are saying Tembea Kenya. Magical Kenya is working with the Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife to see that we have good experiences across the country so that local and international tourists can visit our destinations,” he added.
Mr Balala said 2020 has been a difficult year due to the Covid-19 pandemic that has psuhed the tourism sector to the edge.
“Tourism is on its knees, but I want to thank Kenyans for coming out, travelling and supporting the tourism sector. Every traveller opens up a new job for our people,” he added.
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