Market News

Hotels jobs at highest level since Covid-19 hit

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A meal being plated at The View Restaurant kitchen, Mövenpick Hotel. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA | NMG

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Summary

  • The staff numbers in the sector in November were the highest since March 2020 (80 percent), when the country recorded its first Covid-19 case and imposed tough control measures.
  • Hotels have also hired more people in anticipation of higher bookings during the December holidays, while conference bookings have also gone up on the easing of restrictions.
  • The hospitality and accommodation sector was the worst hit by the pandemic, costing thousands their jobs after the closure of facilities and a drop in international arrivals.

Employment in the hotel industry has gone up to 78 percent of pre-Covid levels as the sector continues to see recovery as establishments hire to match demand following the easing of restrictions.

The staff numbers in the sector in November were the highest since March 2020 (80 percent), when the country recorded its first Covid-19 case and imposed tough control measures including night curfew and curbs on opening hours and capacity in hotels and restaurants.

A survey on hotels by the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) last month ahead of the Monetary Policy Committee meeting shows that employment levels in Nairobi hotels (86 percent) were higher than in the rest of the country (77 percent) percent, reversing earlier trends in which the capital trailed in job numbers.

“The overall employment levels improved from 68 percent in September to 78 percent in November. This indicates increased demand for hotel services leading to recalling of the suspended and/or hiring of new workers,” said CBK in the survey report.

“For the first time since the first case of Covid-19 was reported in the country, the levels of employment in Nairobi exceeded that of the rest of the country reflecting the positive impact of the lifting of curfew on the sector.”

Hotels have also hired more people in anticipation of higher bookings during the December holidays, while conference bookings have also gone up on the easing of restrictions.

The hospitality and accommodation sector was the worst hit by the pandemic, costing thousands their jobs after the closure of facilities and a drop in international arrivals.

In 2020, the accommodation and food sector contracted by 47.7 percent — by far the biggest decline among major economic sectors — followed by arts, recreation and entertainment at 24.3 percent.

Hotel players have projected a continued increase in bookings from both local and international travellers, although they are keeping an eye on the potentially disruptive effect of the newly discovered Omicron variant that is threatening to lock down key markets in Europe afresh.

Twenty-five percent of the respondents in the CBK survey said they expect to attain pre-Covid levels of operations by the end of this year, with another 35 percent expecting to do so next year.

A quarter said they were unsure when their businesses would return to normal levels, down from the 28 percent in September.

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