60 percent of local hotels open doors as international travel resumes

Six hotels out every 10 in Kenya are now open to business following the resumption of international flights. According to the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) Market Perception Survey conducted in July, 60 percent of the hotels indicated they would be open to correspond with the return to external air-travel. The flights are seen to jumpstart the wider hospitality sector which took the heaviest denting from economic disruptions arising from the Covid-19 pandemic. Hotel occupancy saw its worst period across April, May and June while registering near zero forward booking in the three months as flights were grounded and borders shut. CBK’s earlier survey in April indicated over 90 percent of staff had been sent packing as the sector’s revenues run dry. The return of international flights is now seen as light at the end of the tunnel anchoring new optimism for the emaciated industry. “As you can imagine, that has been the hardest hit sectors by the Covid-19 pandemic. It is interesting that 60 percent of hotels indicated that they would be open when international flights return after August 1,” CBK Governor Dr, Patrick Njoroge said on Thursday. Average forward bookings now exhibit growth with hotels indicating mean bookings of 17 percent in September and a maximum 56 percent from a mere two and 10 percent respectively in July. “It’s interesting to see forward bookings. We would want this to be much higher but atleast this is the beginning. Obviously the bookings await confirmation. Nevertheless this is an interesting snippet into the sector,” added Dr. Njoroge. Transport economist David Wamwayo-Nashon expects the return of international flights to not only signal growth for tourism but also the broader domestic economy. “The return of international flights has a pivotal role in the quest to re-open the economy. Sectors such as tourism, transport and labour will draw the greatest reward from this resumption,” he said. International flights return Saturday with the Ministry of Transport establishing a ‘safe flights’ list of 19 countries whose citizens will not be subject to quarantine upon docking into Kenya among them Uganda, China, South Korea, Italy and the United Kingdom. The return will further mark relief to international carriers among them Kenya Airways who are depended on cross-border flights for their bulk of revenues. In a statement issued Thursday, Kenya Airways Chief Executive Officer Allan Kilavuka lauded the return to international air travel backing it to put the struggling airline on a stronger footing. “The resumption of our international flights is an important milestone for us. We look forward to welcoming our guests on board as we play our role in kick starting economies, not only for Kenya but also for those countries that we operate to,” he said. KQ returns with scheduled flights to London, Dubai, Addis Ababa, Kigali and Lusaka on Saturday before an eventual reach to destinations such as the US, China and Thailand later in October.

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