Western Kenya hotel sector closes shop as Covid-19 pandemic bites

Thursday, April 9th, 2020 00:00 |
Park View Safari, one of the hotels closed in the wake of Covid-19 spread in Kisumu. Photo/PD/VIOLA KOSOME

The devastating coronavirus effects have continued to throw into crisis the hospitality industry in western Kenya, with almost all facilities opting for temporary business closure  due  to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

A spot check by TravelWise  has established that most hotels in the region have shut down while the few operating have also indicated they could close as business continues to dwindle.

Western Kenya Hospitality Leaders’ Association chairman Robinson Anyal says many  hotels have closed down indefinitely in the wake of the biting effects of Covid-19 on hospitality businesses. 

“But some are still in operation even though they are recording low business volumes,”  he said. 

Some of the facilities that shut doors for business include Sovereign, Acacia Premier, St John Manor, Parkview Safari and Grand Swiss hotels.

According to Anyal, the closure could be temporal while the facilities are out of business for a period between two to three months as they monitor the response in Covid-19 pandemic fight.

“We are also trying to keep our safety and that of our staffs. We realised there is a lot of interaction that could go on if our facilities remain in business,” he says.

 Employees had been initially sent on annual leave of between 20 days and one month.  Other workers are on unpaid leave, but some  went home without proper communication from their bosses.

“We urge the employers to consider having a pay cut for their staff as mitigation strategy to retain them in the industry,” said Anyal.

Migori Hillview Guesthouse manager, Phillip Odhiambo says the facility has offered its employees a pay cuts amid the dwindling business.

“We have agreed with about 15 workers to take home half salaries,  but no staff has been sent home so far.  Our staff are working for 15 days each, which entitles them to the half salary,” said Odhiambo.

Busia Tourism Association chief executive, Dancun Kubasu says most hotels in the county have not closed business, but have reduced their workforce and cut other costs.

“Some have opted to send their staff on unpaid leave or settled on a pay cut formula to retain their staff,” he says. 

Busia hoteliers are hard hit by the pandemic as it relies mainly on business flow from border activities, which now stands suspended.

“We have had many cancellations in our bookings,” says Kubasu, Busia’s Farmview Hotel’s marketing and PR boss.

He says the facility opted for salary cuts starting this month for its staffs due to the scaled down operations and minimal business opportunities.

“Workers are on a15-day duty rota on a rotational basis due to low business and to ease congestion in efforts to slow down covid-19 spread,” he  says. 

Customers are only placing take away orders and holding minimal meetings.

“No hotels are ordering  for major supplies because of the poor business performance, so traders are also suffering,” he adds. 

More on Lifestyle