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1.1 million people in hospitality sector lost jobs last year

By Winfrey Owino | Jan 19th 2022 | 2 min read
By Winfrey Owino | January 19th 2022

Kenya registered a 53.29 per cent growth in the number of international visitor-arrivals in 2021. [Courtesy]

At least 1.1 million people employed in the hospitality sector lost jobs in 2021, a report by the Tourism Research Institute shows.

The sector also suffered a collective loss of Sh152.4 billion, the report indicates.

Out of the 1.1 million job losses, 295,000 served in accommodation department, 162,000 (food and beverages), 216,000 (passenger transport), 24,000 (attraction sites) and 486,000 (artifacts).

The Tourism industry, however, rebounded in 2021, registering a 302,617 increase in the number of visits into the country, compared to 2020.

“Kenya registered a 53.29 per cent growth in the number of international visitor-arrivals in 2021 that stood at 870,465, as compared to 567,848 in 2020,” Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala said in a statement.

The minister said the spread of the Delta variant suppressed the Tourism sector growth in the first quarter of 2021.

“However, there was a steady growth from June to December [2021,” said Balala.

The bed occupancy between January to September 2021, saw an improved trajectory, with 4.14 million beds occupied across the period, compared to 1.58 million beds occupied within the same period in 2020.

“This sustained recovery of the hospitality sector was largely supported by domestic travellers. Domestic bed nights grew by 101.3 per cent, while international bed nights grew by 0.05 per cent,” the report said.

The sustained economic recovery efforts resulted in the Tourism sector in Kenya registering a revenue collection of Sh146.5 billion in 2021, compared to Sh88 billion the previous year.

“The numbers are still low, but we are optimistic that we will eventually go back to our all-time high international visitor-arrivals that is 2019 or even surpass it,” said Balala.

The report further indicates that Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) remains the major point of entry into Kenya, with 644,194 arrivals registered. Moi International Airport followed with 48,749 arrivals, and other airports (177,522).

In 2020, the Tourism sector lost Sh130 billion due to the Covid-19 pandemic disruptions.

At the time, Tourism CS Balala attributed the loss to low occupancy, cancelled trips and disruption in foreign and local travel that saw several hotels cease operations.

Additional reporting by Brenda Kerubo

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