Jobs in Kenya’s hotel sector improved in December last year to 85 percent of the pre-pandemic levels, the highest level recorded since March 2020 as local clients trooped to the establishments in their thousands during the festive season.
Local guests took up 81 percent and 85 percent of accommodation and restaurant services between December 2021 and January, 2022, compared to 62 percent and 69 percent, respectively, during the period before the pandemic.
The key findings of the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) hotels Survey in January 2022 show that average bed occupancy and use of restaurants services improved in December 2021 compared to the month earlier.
Overall, the sector’s recovery was partly due to lifting of the containment measures that were put in place to curb the spread of the pandemic especially the lifting of the countrywide 10pm to 4am curfew in October 2021.
An estimated 41 percent of the surveyed respondents expect to attain normal (pre-COVID) levels of operations in 2022.
However, uncertainties also remain with 38 percent of the responding hotels still not sure of when they will attain the pre-COVID levels of operations.
In the period under focus, local clientele continued to support the sector during the COVID-19 period contributing to 80.6 percent and 84.8 percent of the accommodation and restaurant services, respectively in December 2021.
On average, the utilization of conferencing services eased to 32 percent in December 2021 compared to 40 percent in November 2021 attributable to normal business cycles in conference services occasioned by Christmas holidays break particularly by the national and county governments as well as other institutions.
By September last year, the sector had recovered to grow by 24.8 percent compared to a contraction of 63.4 percent recorded in a similar period in 2020 when the industry was reeling from biting Covid-19 curbs to check the spread of coronavirus.
Cumulatively over the first three quarters of 2021, the sector’s growth moderated to a contraction of 19.5 percent compared to a contraction of 31.1 percent in the first half of the year, indicating continued recovery of the sector, CBK survey shows.
Generally, forward bookings in the next four months remained low due to concerns about the evolving nature of the pandemic. Average bookings for January 2022 (unutilized services) were about 26 percent, down from 37 percent in December 2021.
Mombasa hotels reported the highest levels of bookings from January through April 2022 with the highest bookings April, associated with school holidays.