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Hoteliers out to engage governor over bed levy

BUSINESS
By Phillip Mwakio | December 24th 2014

Hoteliers in Mombasa County are lobbying to meet Governor Hassan Joho over the contentious tourism bed levy. Under the Kenya Association of Hotelkeepers and Caterers (KAHC), hoteliers say a meeting with the county boss will see them explain and make the governor understand the huge challenges the industry is facing at the moment.

KAHC Coast branch Chief Executive Sam Ikwaye said from an initial Sh500 per room per month, hoteliers engaged the county government in a series of consultative meetings that led to the scaling down of the amount to Sh200 per room per month.

The sector's stakeholders had raised objection to the new levies being imposed at a time when tourism was at its lowest and called for its suspension to allow the sector to  recover. Kwale and Kilifi have already heeded the hoteliers' plea and suspended the levies.

"We are not opposed to the levy being imposed by the county government but want them to understand that as an industry, we are going through a very hard time with occupancies remaining at an all-time low," Ikwaye said.

The team headed by Ikwaye consists of seasoned hoteliers; Victor Shitakha (Tamarind Hotel), Silas Kiti (Kenya Safari Lodges and Hotels, Mombasa Beach), Tuva Mwahunga (Mombasa Serena), Serdois Kanji (Severin Sea Lodge) and Michael Kai of the Reef Hotel.

County harassment

Ikwaye said hoteliers have been incensed by the manner in which the County's Inspectorate Department enforces the bed levy, where they in some instances arrest hoteliers over alleged non-compliance. "We have so far engaged the Mombasa County Executive in charge of Tourism and Culture Development Job Tumbo before we meet Governor Joho," Ikwaye said.

Hoteliers argue that the implementation of the bed levy has been done haphazardly, with no invoices being issued. "Hoteliers' argument stems from the fact that tourism business is not doing well and cannot sustain the levies at the moment, considering the fact that many hotels have been performing below the 30 per cent bed occupancy," he said.

He observed that a number of hotels have sent home some of their staff and those spared had to take a pay cut. 

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