A survey of hotels by the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) has indicated that the sector is firmly on the path to recovery to pre-COVID-19 levels, particularly after a significant reduction in infection rates and continued vaccination across the country.
The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) has attributed the recovery rate to the full reopening of the economy as a result of the low positivity rate in the country which was less than three percent at the time the study was carried out.
The survey, which aimed at assessing the extent of recovery in the hotels sector from the adverse effects of COVID-19 was conducted between July 4 and 15, 2022, covering hotels selected randomly in Nairobi, Machakos, Kiambu, Naivasha and Kajiado and key towns countrywide, including Mombasa, Kisumu, Eldoret, Nakuru, Nyeri, Kisii and Meru towns.
Most of the sampled hotels had returned to their normal levels of operations (pre-COVID-19) signaling continued recovery of the sector.
This was mainly on account of the increased number of vaccinated adult population, and lifting of COVID-19 restrictions.
According to the Economic Survey (2022), the hotel sector benefited from the lifting of the COVID-19 restrictions both overseas and domestically in 2021, leading to a 52.5 percent growth in the hospitality industry in 2021 compared to a contraction of 47.7 percent in 2020.
Overall, domestic clients took up 60 percent and 71 percent of accommodation and restaurant services respectively between June and July 2022, compared to 56 percent and 67 percent, respectively, during the period before the pandemic.
Similarly, the survey showed that the sector was supported by improved international visitor arrivals that grew by 50.3 percent from 579,600 visitors to 871,300 visitors in 2021, with bed occupancy increasing by 50.3 percent while the number of conferences held increased significantly from 1,204 in 2020 to 8,409 in 2021.
Consequently, employment in the sector rose by 23.9 percent to 61,700 employees in 2021. The sector is estimated to have grown by 56.2 percent in the first quarter of 2022.
The survey also showed that overall employment levels stabilized around 83 percent in June and July 2022, further establishing that businesses generally adjust the number of casual employees depending on the levels of business, reducing the casual employees when the demand declines and hiring them as fortunes improve.
Even though the foreign clients’ percentage for accommodation and hotel services is yet to surpass the pre-Covid-19 period levels, the industry remains optimistic that it will catch up going forward.
So far, the industry has seen a significant increase in bookings in Nairobi and Mombasa between August and November 2022 according to the survey indicating a recovery in demand.