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Hoteliers dispute Uhuru's rosy picture of industry

By Tobias Chanji | April 4th 2016 at 00:00:00 GMT +0300

Tourists enjoying a game drive at the Samburu National Reserve taken on 17th March 2016. PHOTO:WILBERFORCE OKWIRI

Some hotels in South Coast have disputed President Uhuru Kenyatta’s claim that rooms were fully booked up to June.

Last Thursday during the State of the Nation Address, the President painted a rosy picture of the hotel industry at the Coast.

However, some hoteliers in South Coast say many workers could be laid off due to a drop in bookings, with bed occupancy at 40 per cent on average.

Some of the hotels have even started laying off workers while others have started closing for refurbishment due to poor business.

Swahili Beach Resort is one of the hotels that have already started laying off staff, especially casuals. According to General Manager Jeff Mukolwe, 25 per cent of them will be laid off.

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“We have already started laying off staff but will recall them once the  business volume goes up,” said Mr Mukolwe.

He said the hotel was operating below 40 per cent bed occupancy, adding that the bookings for the month of May might even go below 20 per cent.

Deciding Factor

“The next three months will really be a deciding factor and will depend on which strategy we use. These will either be to target regional business and special packages to entice the local market,” he noted, adding that the hotel will also take advantage to do soft refurbishment.

With 100 rooms, Jacaranda Beach Resort has a bed occupancy of between 42 and 50 per cent, according to General Manager Anne Safari.

She said most European tourists were going back although there were reasonable bookings from East African countries.

“We are now capitalising on events and conferences and we will definitely not close,” said Ms Safari.

Mr Titus Kangangi, who is the CEO of Diani Reef Hotel, said he had no idea which hotels were fully booked.

Diani Reef has 143 rooms, which are currently running at 30 per cent bed occupancy.

According to Mr Kangangi, the hotel was currently improving facilities and will not close.

“We have already invested a total of Sh180 million, which has gone to new energy-saving air conditioners, lighting, smart television sets and Sh5 million for free Wi-Fi,” he added.

So far the hotel has also invested on a 600 capacity conference with state-of-the-art equipment to entice conferencing, which has mainly been dominated by Leisure Lodge Resort.

Since last December to Easter this year, most of the hotels recorded a minimum of 70 per cent bed occupancy.

tourism South Coast hotel industry
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