NAIROBI,Kenya Mar 30 – Hotel brand Hemingways Collection has joined dozens of other hotels in the country which have suspended operations due to the coronavirus pandemic which has already scuttled numerous businesses.
The group has suspended operations in Ol Seki Mara and Hemingways Nairobi properties but its branch in Watamu will remain open during this period.
A spot check by Capital Business revealed that Hilton Hotel Nairobi remained closed Monday. Dusit D2, Sopa lodges, White rhino hotel, Maiyan Enashipai Resort and Spa, Weston Hotel have also announced closures in the wake of the virus which has infected 42 people in the country.
Despite the closure, Hemingways Collection Chairperson, Dicky Evans, said the group will retain all its staff but reduce the salaries of permanent staff.
“As a Group, we have prioritized the retention of staff and their well-being with all permanent employees being retained however receiving reduced salaries for three months,” said Evans.
“We are humbled by the massive support from our staff following this decision amid this evolving COVID-19 challenge. Everyone is making huge sacrifices to survive these unprecedented times and we are truly grateful to them all” he said.
Out of its 24 properties, Serena Hotels has also shut down 10 lodges and camps in Kenya and Tanzania until June 15, 2020.
The Group’s Managing Director, Mahmud Janmohamed, said Serena Hotels had never experienced a situation like COVID-19 impacting the global hospitality industry
“We have been following the COVID-19 situation very closely and its emerging impact on our business model and portfolio in Africa. It is indeed impossible today to calculate the human and financial impact that COVID-19 will have on the global hospitality industry,” he said.
Tourism stakeholders have predicted losses in the wake of the global pandemic.
Expeditions Maasai Safari Chief Executive Officer Pancras Karema said the group had lost millions since the government announced Kenya’s first case in early March.
“The pandemic has made us lose monies in the tune of millions since we had invested heavily in marketing and booking hotels in advance for clients hoping that we will be able to recover the money, ” said Karema.
Tourism and Wildlife Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala has set up a National Tourism Crisis Steering Committee to come up with mitigation measures for any emergencies that will dim the industry’s performance in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.