Hospitality industry players in Western Kenya are confident the sector will bounce back after being hard hit by political uncertainties, which culminated in the October 26 fresh presidential polls. The hoteliers have suffered huge losses due to the heightened political tensions, street demonstrations and riots during the countdown to the elections.
However, the tensions have cooled down and investors are hoping their businesses will soon rebuild after almost stalling. Western Kenya Hospitality Managers Association chairman Robinson Anyal says the hoteliers are confident the sector will rejuvenate as the festive season beckons.
“Business is picking up steadily after the heavy political disruptions, with many inquiries for conference facilities and accommodation,” he says. He says 50 per cent of the bookings which were postponed because of the political uncertainties are likely to be rescheduled for later this month and December.
“Still, many clients are not sure of the political direction the country may take,” says Anyal. During the political heat, which was characterised by demonstrations against IEBC by opposition supporters, hotels in the area were operating below 20 per cent bed occupancy, incurring big losses. “We lost almost 80 per cent of business we ought to have generated but we remain positive of recouping some of the losses,” says Anyal.
Kisumu’s St John’s Manor Hotel manager Joshua Otieno says they are already receiving a lot of inquiries but is not sure whether all of them will translate into bookings. “We lost big businesses from cancellations of bookings due to the political tension that engulfed Western Kenya,” he says.
Otieno anticipates a gradual recovery, particularly with the festive season around the corner, subject to the political tensions dying out. “The festive season is soon here with us; we can bet on recording good income,” says Otieno. According to Agnes Wafula, manager at Shalom Hotel, business is yet to pick up but she is optimistic normalcy will resume in the lakeside city.
“At the moment I can say that there is little business going on but we hope to start receiving some of our loyal clients when the political situation stabilises. Wafula’s prayer is that the political antagonism in the country is brought to an end so that hotels can resume business.