Windfall for hoteliers as quarantine continues for travellers from abroad
Seth Onyango @SethManex
The mandatory State quarantine for incoming international travellers has given local hotels a new lease of life amid falling occupancy rates due to coronavirus.
Already, more than 25 high end hotels in Mombasa and Nairobi are being used as isolation facilities for travellers who recently jetted back into the country.
They include Hilton Nairobi, Hilton Garden Inn, Safari Park, Hill Park, Pride Inn Hotels (both in Nairobi and Mombasa), Jacaranda, Trade Mark Hotel and Four Points Sheraton hotels.
Others are Boma Hotel, Crown Plaza (airport), Mombasa Beach Hotel, LaMada Hotel, Concord Hotel, Clarion, Comfort, Mashpark Hotel, Eka Hotel and Land Mark Suites.
Most of them are charging between Sh4,000 and Sh18,000 depending on the meal plan, which include breakfast, half board, full board and all-inclusive packages.
It followed a government directive on March 23 placing all inbound travellers in hotels and other holding facilities such as schools to prevent them from potentially spreading the virus, a tighter than one that earlier allowed them to serve the period at home.
Following the directive, some hotels which had registered suppressed bookings have recorded high yields as travellers, some of them students incur thousands of unplanned expenditure on accommodation.
And on Saturday, the government extended the period under which those in isolation will remain quarantined by another two weeks, giving hotels another windfall.
“It has been brought to my attention that some of those quarantined in the same facility have tested positive for Covid-19. This is effect changes their status from quarantined from travel to contacts of positive Covid-19 patients,” said Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe.
It comes even as the affected travellers threatened not to pay for extended accommodation, asserting that the charges were exorbitant.
Jenny Santos, a Mexican, who is a resident in Kenya told Business Hub that cost in mandatory quarantine facilities is exorbitant, arguing that supervised self-isolation was much better.
Trade Mark Hotel, where she is quarantined, charges Sh9,000 per day, meaning she will fork out more than Sh130,000 for the two weeks she will be there.
And with the just announced extension, she will cough up another Sh130,000 for the 14-day extended period.
“You cannot put people under forced governmental quarantine and then tell them, we didn’t do it correctly, so do it again and pay for it again,” she said. Others have also complained of hotel raising the fees to take advantage of them.
The government’s extension of the stay for those in quarantine has also elicited sharp criticism from those in isolation, with many saying they can’t afford the cost.