Safari Rally lifts tourism, locals take up 80% of July hotel bookings

Local visitors accounted for 80% of hotel bookings in the month of July according to a survey by the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK).

CBK Monetary Policy Committee Hotels Survey for July 2021 indicate that increased domestic tourism activities such as the WRC Safari Rally held in Nakuru last month hauled the much awaited recovery of the tourism sector.

Domestic visitors also sustained upward movement in bed occupancy which increased to an average of 30% in July from an average of 19% in April

“Bed occupancy in hotels in Nairobi and Mombasa improved in July, while the occupancy in the rest of the country declined. The occupancy levels in hotels in Nairobi and Nakuru counties was boosted by the World Rally Championship in June. Hotels in Nakuru county reported that they were fully booked during this event.”

Nakuru County hosted WRC Safari Rally in July. PHOTO | KBC

While the rest of the country experienced decline, improved occupancy rate in Nairobi and Nakuru was also attributed to increased activities by the national and county governments towards the end of FY2O20/21 in June.

During the month, 96% of hotels surveyed were back in operation compared to 94% in May and 81% in April, reflecting continued recovery of the sector after the lifting of the COVID-19 containment measures on May 2.

“In particular, all the respondent hotels in the rest of the country and 92% of hotels in Nairobi are in operation. A few hotels in Nairobi that are still closed cited low business as the main reason, since they largely depend on foreign business. Nevertheless, respondents reported concerns and risks related to the resurgence and increase in COVID-19 infections to the sectors operations,” said CBK.

Employment in the accommodation and foods services sector which contracted by a massive 57.9% last year on account of COVID-19 is similarly showing signs of recovery as overall employment levels in the sector in July improved to 62% of the pre-covid levels in February 2020, from 57% and 49% in May and April respectively.

Before the pandemic 82,900 were employed in the sector.

Of the 86 hotels who were sampled, only 13% expect to return to pre-covid normalcy.

Tourism COVID-19 protocols

In a bid to further support tourism sector recovery efforts the Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife is set to engage county governments in order to ensure hotel workers are vaccinated.

Tourism and Wildlife CS Najib Balala says ministry to engage counties to begin vaccinating hotel workers. PHOTO | Courtesy

Speaking when he launched the revised Magical Kenya Tourism and Travel Health and Safety Protocols for the ‘New Normal’, Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala said this will ensure Kenya emerges as a top destination given that countries with the highest vaccination rates will be on the forefront of receiving higher number of visitors.

“Hospitality workers can also be considered to be front line workers as they engage with visitors on a personal level. That is why we are urging our hospitality stakeholders to get vaccinated whenever they get the chance. On our part, we shall be liaising with CECs of Tourism and Health at County levels so that the stakeholders can be vaccinated,” added Balala.

With the hotels and eateries bared from servicing guests from 9PM due to the 4AM-10PM nationwide curfew, Balala warns the industry of laxity as new wave of COVID-19 threatened gains made so far.

“We are aware that most regulated establishments have put in place measures to comply with COVID-19 protocols,and we commend them for that. However, there is a general laxity in full compliance especially when it comes to social distancing. Also, there are those that are not following or are trying to circumvent the laid down protocols. We want to tell them their days are numbered and that the long arm of the law will soon catch up with them,” noted Balala.

According to Tourism ministry data, 300,000 visitors arrived within the last six months.


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