Job loss fears mount as more hotels shut down


Local tourists at a public beach in Mombasa. Hotels in the region now depend on domestic tourists and conferencing to stay afloat. PHOTO | FILE

More hotels in Kilifi and Kwale counties are expected to close down this week as the low tourist season sets in just after the relatively busy Easter holiday.

The number of hotel workers rendered jobless is expected to rise above 30,000 as hotels across the region brace for a further decline in international guests.

On Tuesday, Kenya Association of Hotelkeepers and Caterers (KAHC) Coast branch executive officer Sam Ikwaye said that before Easter, 23 hotels in Malindi and Watamu resort towns in Kilifi county as well as those in Diani, Kwale county had already shut down due to the international tourist drought.

As a result of the low season, he said, more hotels were expected to close down for renovations in Malindi, Watamu and Diani tourist towns.

“In the wake of the low season, we expect the number of closed hotels to soar above 23 while more than 30,000 workers will be out of work,” he explained.

The KAHC official said hotels in Mombasa would now depend on domestic tourists and conferencing to stay afloat.

He projected that hotels in Mombasa would have an average occupancy of between 40 per cent and 60 per cent this month down from occupancy of between 70 per cent and 90 per cent during the just ended Easter holiday.

Mr Ikwaye said hotels in Diani would average at between 15 per cent and 30 per cent down from between 60 per cent and 95 per cent at Easter holiday.

READ: No recovery for Kenya tourism until 2018

In Malindi, hotels currently have an occupancy of between 15 per cent and 20 per cent down from 50 per cent and 70 per cent over Easter.

The KAHC official urged the government to address the security concerns to enable the United Kingdom, the US, France and Australia lift the travel advisories which had crippled the sector.

He appealed to the government to improve roads in resort towns, national parks and game reserves ahead of the next high tourist season.

In Diani, Leopard Beach Resort general manager Mohammed Omar said the hotel occupancy had plummeted to below 30 per cent down from 98 per cent during Easter.

He explained that over Easter the hotel had 80 per cent domestic guests while the rest came from Germany and Italy.

“At the moment, we have few guests as majority of the locals who were here to celebrate Easter have returned home” he said.

“During the low season, we shall depend on local and regional tourists as well as conferences to survive the hard times,” he added.

In Malindi, Ocean Beach Resort general manager Robert Marini said the hotel had an occupancy of 20 per cent down from 70 per cent during Easter.