The hotel industry in Kisumu and the larger Western Kenya has welcomed the move to call off Azimio’s nationwide protests.
Key stakeholders in the industry noted that a peaceful environment should be sustained for the long-run to allow them do business.
Azimio leadership, led by opposition chief Raila Odinga on Sunday called off the demonstrations after president William Ruto ceeded ground for some of their demands.
The president said he was willing to have the issue of IEBC be handled through bipartisan route in parliament.
Raila while calling off the protests was categorical that they would be back in the streets if their irreducible minimums are not met .
Reacting to the new development, the chairman of Lake Victoria Association Robinson Anyal said the decision came at the right time when the region is expecting to reap from bookings for the Easter weekend.
He said as an association, they were working with their members and respective bookers for postponement and not cancellations.
” Now we are expecting those postponement in bookings to flow in immediately,” he told the Star in an interview on Monday.
Kisumu , according to the association has a bed capacity of approximately 10,000 beds from the hotels, home stays and Airbnb .
” For the region, 80% of business we do is from the domestic and local market,” he said .
” Conference and accommodation takes a large percentage. 60% of monthly income is from accommodation for majority of our members,” Anyal said .
The chairman said demonstrations are detrimental to the image of any tourist destination.
” The industry performance has fallen to below 20% which is not sustainable. We are not yet out of the negative effects of COVID and electioneering,” he said .
Anyal noted that majority of high end hotels in the region are not more than 6 years in business.
” They are yet to start breaking even below the high Capital intensive investments,” he added.
Kisumu bore the heaviest brunt of the demonstrations that begun on March 20 to put pressure on the government to amongst other things,lower the biting cost of living.
Most hotel managers in the lake side city while welcoming the decision for dialogue condemned the protests that left a trail of destruction in its wake as criminals and looters took advantage of the denominations to destroy property.
Peter Ayuko, who is the General Manager at Best Western Hotel Kisumu described as unfortunate and regrettable what was reported to have happened to one of the leading Hotels in Kisumu town during the riots.
” Our industry was just beginning to recover from the long visit by Covid-19 in general and the January business effects in particular,” he said .
” We appreciate that the political leadership in Kisumu has condemned the behaviour in the strongest terms possible,” he said.
He said they hope that the government and all political players will protect hospitility establishments and shield them from future aggression and riots.
Nelson Miguna, General Manager, Royal City Hotel-Town observed that the hospitality industry was badly hit by the staged demonstrations, when it was yet to start the recovery process of Covid-19 pandemic.
” We are literally bitting that hand that feeds us, the investment opportunities are wading away.We are however grateful to the County government for issuing a statement against the hooliganism and assuring the residents and potential investors of restoring calm and taking action against the criminals in future,” he said .
He said the industry players are keen to welcome guests to Kisumu and through partnership with the county government, the Hotel sector look forward to marketing the region.
Robert Ayoko , General Manager
Facility; St. Augustine Hotel Nyamasaria Kisumu said that Even though the Constitution allows demonstration, on the same breath, it doesn’t allow infringement of someone right or destruction of property .
” What we witnessed is totally uncalled for. Several properties within and outside town were vandalised . As hospitality practitioners, we warmly request Western leaders to condemn such acts vehemently, being that we continually experience guests cancellation due to such misbehaviour because our clients are highly concerned about their safety,” he said .
Ayuko noted that the hospitality industry in Kisumu was currently at its lowest.
” Kisumu closed an average trading month of March whose last one and a half weeks was a total disaster. Our accommodation is below 5% and all conferences have been cancelled,” he said .
He suggested that moving forward , all the political players needs to sit down and agree on the current issues to not only help Kenya as a country but the Tourism industry in particular.