Thousands of hotel workers in Coast have been declared redundant due to a drastic drop in the number of international tourists, officials from various counties in the region said on Tuesday.
Lay-off of at least 4,000 workers, has been blamed on the low tourist season that began in April and travel advisories, which were issued by the United Kingdom, the US, France and Australia earlier this month.
However, the Nation yesterday learnt that some British tourists had chosen to remain in Mombasa to continue enjoying their holidays despite the travel advisory and the evacuation of about 700 tourists at the weekend. Those evacuated were mainly on vacation in hotels in the South Coast.
Kwale County tourism executive Adam Sheikh said about 1,500 workers have been laid off since April. “Some hotels have temporarily shut down owing to the low season, while those remaining open are averaging at 10 per cent occupancy,” he said.
The Kwale county official said hundreds of businesspeople, who depend on tourism, have also been denied their livelihoods. Among those affected were curio dealers, safari sellers, boat operators, fishermen, farmers, taxi drivers and suppliers of various goods.
“Diani depends solely on tourism and following the evacuation of the British tourists, traders who depend on the industry are out of business,” he said.
In Kilifi County, at least half of the hotels in Malindi and Watamu tourist resort towns have been closed down, according to the Kenya Association of Hotelkeepers and Caterers (KAHC) Kilifi county branch chairman Philip Chai.
Of the 26 hotels affiliated to KAHC in Kilifi county, 13 had closed down due to lack of tourists. As a result, about 2,500 workers were sent home. The KAHC official said hotels that solely depend on Italian tourists were the hardest hit.
“From March to date, we have seen 50 per cent of hotels in Kilifi County close down due to tourists drought,” he said. “We expect the hotels to reopen from mid-July to July 26 depending on when the Italian chartered airlines will resume flights.”
KAHC Coast branch executive officer Sam Ikwaye said the hotels, which have been temporarily closed down due to the low season in Malindi and Watamu towns, include Tropical Village, Coral Key, Blue Bay Village, Turtle Bay and Kilili Baharini.
Meanwhile, British holidaymaker Alma White said she found no reason to cut short her five-week holiday since she felt safe in Mombasa even as her colleagues were evacuated. Ms White said when the UK issued the travel advisory, which led to the evacuation, her family called her.
“I told my family in the UK that I was very safe together with my partner and that we had decided to remain in Mombasa till the last day of our holiday on May 30,” she said.
Last week, she says, a travel agent visited her at the hotel and told her to cut short her holiday following the UK travel advisory.
( Courtesy Daily Nations & AGENCIES …….. Source ……… Our Freelance Contibutor in Nairobi)