Hotel forward bookings in Kenya have remained low, relative to the total bed capacity for the period between January to April 2022.
According to the Monetary Policy Committee Hotels Survey 2022, undertaken by the Central Bank of Kenya(CBK), forward bookings remained low between January and April this year due to concerns about the evolving nature of the Omicron variant of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hotel bookings for January down to 26%
Average bookings for January 2022 (unutilized services) were about 26%, down from 37% 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.
Majority of hotels in Nairobi and the rest of the country reported that they largely
depend on walk-in clients or bookings on short notice and therefore the low forward bookings.
The Survey requested the respondents to make any other comments on the sector including the impact of the recent escalation of COVID-19 infections on their business operations.
54% of respondents noted that business remained low compared to the preCOVID-19 period. This reflects the impact of the pandemic on the incomes of citizens, collapse of businesses, laying off of workers and reduced job opportunities.
In addition, the pandemic resulted in increased operational costs related to COVID-19
management, compounded by a rise in fuel prices.
Additionally, 7% of the respondents feel that the sector was hardest hit and urged the government to consider providing a stimulus to the sector, or tax waivers, as well as reduction of some levies to support their recovery.
Concerning the recent escalation of the infections under the Omicron variant, 15% of the respondents indicated that it had no impact on their business.
This was attributed to the fact that the government did not impose restrictions such as lockdowns, travel bans or curfew as was the case in 2020.
The hotels were therefore able to continue with their operations without interruptions.
Only 9% of the respondents reported cancellations of bookings due to the infections. These were mainly hotels in Mombasa that largely rely on international clients.
In conclusion, the MPC Hotel Survey found that the sector has continued to recover significantly following the lifting of the curfew in October 2021 registering the highest levels of bed occupancy since the beginning of the pandemic.
In particular, all the hotels sampled across the country were operating in December 2021 and January 2022.
However, a few hotels in Nairobi remained closed mainly on account of factors unrelated to COVID-19.
As a percent of the pre-COVID period, overall employment in the sector has continued to recover, rising to 85 percent in December 2021 up from 81 percent in November 2021.
Average bed occupancy and utilization of restaurant services also continued to recover on account of increased demand during Christmas and New year festivities.
However, conference services declined in December 2021 on account of seasonal factors mainly closure by various institutions for Christmas break. Local guests continued to support accommodation and restaurant services.
Forward hotel bookings for the period January to April 2022 are lower due to seasonal factors compounded by COVID-19 uncertainties affecting long future planning.
Local clients prefer walk-ins or bookings on very short notice. The responding hotels expect the sector to continue recovering towards the pre-COVID-19 levels of operations before the end of 2022.