Hoteliers project higher bookings in first 4 months


An open space inside Fairview Hotel Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Hoteliers project higher bookings in the four months to April compared to the same period last year due to the extended school holidays and increased foreign reservations driven by winter conditions abroad.

The Central Bank of Kenya’s Market Perceptions Survey shows forward booking averaged at 43.9 percent in January compared to 26.2 percent last January.

Rooms reservations have been recorded at 47.8 percent in February, up from 24.0 percent in February 2022.

The bookings averaged at 44.5 percent in March and 38.5 percent in April, higher than 36.3 and 29.4 percent in similar periods last year.

Read: Kenya's hospitality rides out storm to recovery in 2022

Business and conferencing bookings have also been marked high from both local market and foreign companies with establishments in the country, and those looking for investment opportunities in the country.

This comes amid global inflation, uncertainty and concerns of recessionary fears in the global economy that were expected to cut passenger spending and bookings.

“Domestic bookings, which are traditionally low at the beginning of the year were boosted by the extended school holidays in January 2023,” CBK stated.

“Most forward bookings at the beginning of the year are from foreign markets, largely due to the winter conditions abroad.”

Tourism alongside horticulture, tea and remittances are Kenya’s top foreign exchange earners, but foreign visitor numbers are still well below pre-pandemic levels, to see the sector heavily clinging to the domestic market.

International tourists surged 89.1 percent to 723,630 in the eight months through August 2022, compared to 382,619 in the same period last year.

In 2021, the country saw 870,465 arrivals which brought in Sh146.5 billion, compared to over 2.04 million international arrivals and Sh296.2 billion in earnings in 2019.

Local travel agents have previously expressed fears with global happenings in Kenya’s traditional source markets such as the US facing a rise in unemployment and the UK staring at recession- which is expected to slow down bookings.

China, which has been a growing tourist source region for Kenya due to bilateral trade ties between the two countries, had placed tough zero- Covid policy restrictions last year that was since lifted in December but are seen recording slow economic growth.

The agents had stated that forward bookings would tilt upwards from April 2023 and beyond when economies begin to recover and the rebound for travel continues to increase.

Also read: Why South African company disposed of its Nairobi hotels

Hotels, however, have expressed optimism in the sector growth and employment largely supported by improved business, signalling recovery in the foreign market.

Seasonal factors, such as end-of-festive season demand for casual workers by hotels, and automation including optimisation of processes to help reduce costs, are expected to lead to some merged roles and likely redundancies.

The sector is among those that are expected to record economic growth above 6.0 percent - among finance and insurance, agriculture and manufacturing - at 6.4 percent this year.