Tourism stakeholders in Kilifi County are calling for fair distribution of COVID-19 vaccine with claims arising that they have been sidelined in the vaccination exercise currently being undertaken by the government.
Kenya Hotel Keepers and Caterers Association (KHKCA) says despite being classified as frontline workers who interact with foreigners and visitors from various parts of the country they are yet to be considered for the jab.
KHKCA Chairperson Maureen Awuor said the vaccine for the tourism industry was rolled out in Nairobi and Mombasa counties but is yet to reach the Kilifi County, one of the top tourism hotspots in the country.
“We are still expecting that we are going to get the vaccination which we have not been given. Some counties like Nairobi had already dedicated some vaccines for the frontline workers in the hotel industry, Nairobi did that Mombasa did that but other counties like our county it is not happening,” she said.
Awuor who is also the General Manager of Ocean Beach Resort and Spa in Malindi said she spoke with the Kilifi County Tourism CEC Member Nahida Athman but is yet to respond on the issue up to date.
Awuor spoke during the monthly clean-up exercise organized by Progressive Welfare Association of Malindi (PWAM).
“Whatever I will tell the stakeholders today is that its good to have a teamwork, it is good to work together because the environment is very important, we have to clean our environment and keep it clean always not just the days of the clean-up but every time,’’ she said.
Kilifi County relies heavily on the tourism sector from Mtwapa, Kilifi town, Malindi, Watamu, and Mamburui which are key tourism attractions for both local and international tourists.
Michael Gichohi from the popular Casino Malindi said as tourism stakeholders, they are not happy in the manner in which the county government was treating them on the vaccination against COVID-19 as they have not been vaccinated.
He said Casino Malindi has over 100 staff members who deal mainly with foreign guests and wondered why they have not been given priority in the vaccination drive.
“Every time we asked about that we are not we a not on the first phase we stakeholders in the hotel industry we need to be vaccinated because we are dealing with foreigners who are coming on a daily basis and would want our staff to be vaccinated,” he said.
Gichohi called on the authorities to set aside some vaccines for the hotel industry as they currently feel they are not safe particularly the staff who are always dealing with foreigners.
He said most of the foreigners are vaccinated as of now but would want to see staff who are safe too working in a safe environment.
“I am sure if everybody is vaccinated that is going to boost our business because everybody will see like we are operating a casino that is Covid 19 free,” he said.
Gichohi said they cleaned Lamu road from Vera Cruz together with the beach road along the casino Malindi area.
He said it is important to clean the town because it’s a tourist destination adding that it was good to keep the environment clean.
Ismail Muhsin a businessman in Malindi who owns Alhashmyre Supermarket said the new wave of COVID-19 from India is worse and urged Kenyans to take precautions by ensuring they wear masks, wash hands to prevent the spread of the pandemic in their homes.
He said the new wave is worst adding that in Kilifi County the numbers are rising each day which is a cause for alarm.
“We would urge Kenyans to wear masks for protection such that even if they see a police vehicle, they are covered instead of rushing to wear the masks whenever they see a police vehicle,“ he said.