Hospitality sector pins hope on vaccine, gears up for stronger growth
TOURISM: Kenya’s hospitality industry is projected to grow by between 15 per cent and 20 per cent mainly due to the arrival of coronavirus (Covid-19) vaccine in the country.
Going forward, industry players believe the sector will witness improved bookings and accommodation in most establishments, particularly at the coastal region. The sector was hit hard by the pandemic.
Hasnain Noorani, PrideInn Group managing director said the vaccine is expected to be a significant boon for the tourism and hospitality industry, which has been badly affected by border closures, travel restrictions, curfew and social distancing measures related to Covid-19.
“We predict an increase of between 15 per cent to 20 per cent bookings and accommodation,” he said.
Despite the expected rebound, stakeholders still predict that 2021 will still be a rough year for travel and hospitality industries and full recovery could be a year away.
“There have been an increased number in bookings and reservations in the last few weeks since the vaccination landed in the country, it is a clear sign that things are gradually bouncing back,” said Immaculate Wanyonyi, Tourism manager with Hidden Gem adventures.
The vaccine’s arrival has raised hopes of a quick recovery from both the health-related challenges and the economic impacts of the pandemic.
While a vaccine will be key to any resumption in mass tourism, industry players say that other measures will also be crucial to the expected recovery, amid rising cases of new variants of the infection.
“I believe that the main priority of the tourism industry is to get people travelling and doing business and events again safely by giving government confidence that systematic Covid-19 prevention measures are possible and reliable prior to having a vaccine,” Victor Shitakha, Chairman, Kenya Coast Tourism Association
Although the situation eased with withdrawal of movement restrictions, many parts of the world are now experiencing a spike in coronavirus cases, leading to further lockdowns.
“As we all know, the vaccine programme will take a while to roll out to all parts of the country, so pre-and post-vaccine programmes should be concurrently available,” added Shitakha
In addition to the fiscal constraints on households, some tourism-related companies may find it difficult to return to business after spending much of 2020 and 2021 either closed or operating severely below capacity.