Hoteliers have urged the government to offer them Covid-19 reliefs and allow them to reopen their establishments, arguing that they have put in place adequate measures to contain Covid-19 infection
Local hospitality players have also asked the government to allow them defer taxes, or part of the taxes since the sector has collapsed and the current restrictions will see the sector take long to recover especially with the high number of infections being reported in the third wave.
Hotel and restaurant owners say they have put adequate strategies to contain spread of the virus and adhere to Ministry of Health protocols. They argue that with this, they should be allowed to operate to save livelihoods of over two million workers, who have been rendered jobless.
“Hotels and restaurants have been closed indefinitely. It is painful seeing staff stay home jobless, yet they have families to support,” said Hasnain Noorani, Pride Inn Group Managing Director, adding that it was that hotels and tourism industry players in Kenya are not given opportunity to give their views on simple solutions to ensure business go on.
He added, “The government has been silent on measures to give businesses a respite from the looming crisis. We call on them to give us a chance to defer taxes, or part of the taxes, since we are back to the mass closures that put us on our knees since last year.”
Mr Noorani said such measures will go a long way in saving these businesses from total ruin, and in the process save hundreds of thousands of jobs.
In 2020, when President Uhuru Kenyatta first announced measures to prevent the virus from spreading, the monetary and fiscal authorities followed up, with several measures to safeguard businesses and individuals from the ensuing economic hit.
In April last year, the government introduced a number of reliefs including suspensions on loan repayments, tax cuts, removal of fees on mobile transactions.
The announcement of a stimulus package meant to create jobs and to cushion the economy from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic but since the beginning of this year, all the reliefs were suspended leaving most of businesses struggling.
Kenya Tourism Federation chairman Mohammed Hersi warned that if Covid-19 infections status quo remain, tourism sector is likely to fully recover in the next two years.
“Tourism is a sensitive sector and it depends mostly on travel. With the current containment measures remaining in place for long, we are likely to see recovery of tourism sector in 2023,” said Mr Hersi.
The hospitality industry now faces the task of restoring consumer confidence and adapting offerings, to ensure guests’ experiences are not only hospitable but hygienic and safe as well.
Tourism contributed approximately 10 per cent of Kenya’s annual GDP, employing over two million people. It was this segment that got decimated with onset and continuous grip of Covid-19.