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Customers enjoy a cup of tea while observing social distance at Green Valley Hotel in Nakuru town, yesterday after the government lifted lockdown in disease infected counties on Saturday. Photo/PD/Raphael Munge

Kenyans breathed a sigh of relief after the government lifted the lockdown in the disease infected counties of Nairobi, Machakos, Nakuru, Kiambu and Kajiado, with the hope of picking up the pieces and working for a brighter tomorrow.  

From jua kali artisans to airlines; mama mboga to captains of industry, everyone is looking to leverage on the reopening to improve their economic wellbeing.

A spot-check by the People Daily showed while hospitality businesses are dusting off their premises with revellers trickling in, transporters have taken their fleets for service and commuters are trooping to bus termini to travel to different destinations.

Investors in Public Service Vehicles plying long distance routes say they are hopeful business will pick up by the end of the week while in the hospitality sector, many hotels have opened and allowing in-person service.

Holiday destinations such as those in the North Coast and South Coast yesterday revealed they had begun receiving bookings from upcountry guests who had cancelled their holidays as a result of the travel restrictions.

At Travellers Beach Hotel and Club, for example, General Manager Hilary Siele disclosed that the hotel had incurred Sh4.6 million loss on conferencing and events immediately after President Uhuru Kenyatta’s announcement cessation of movement in the five counties.

Below average

Baobab Beach Resort and SPA in the South Coast is among tourist establishments which have begun positioning themselves to receive guests in line with covid-19 protocols.

“Welcome back to your favourite spot Friends. We are more than ready to continue serving you with excellence as you deserve.

Pay for 3 stay for 4 days offer still continues from as low as Sh6,900 per night,” the hotel announced yesterday

At Travellers Beach, Siele said the hotel had 85 per cent of its staff placed on compulsory leave as the cost of operations remained unbearable.

“We are not able to meet any bills right now, we are just operating below average financially; about the stimulus package we are yet to get it, we stand a position to benefit but we are hoping that it will go through, we have complied 100 per cent so when it comes through, it will greatly help us,” said Siele.

In the transport sector, Kenya Association of Bus Companies national chairman Abubakar Talib said the sector lost close to Sh100 million a day since travelling in and out of the five counties was restricted.

“This is a huge loss because some of our members have grounded operations, and workers lost employment,” said Talib.

He said the fare hikes were as a result of the high cost of fuel.

 But for other players, the resumption of inbound flights, the Standard Gauge Railway trains and the long-distance passenger bus companies now provides an easy linkage between Nairobi and the Coast of Kenya which most of its domestic tourists come from.

“Most of our domestic tourists are from upcountry, therefore the reopening of the five counties is a big relief for the sector as many guests will now troop to Mombasa on weekends, for conferences and also on leisure, we are hoping the government will continue supporting the sector players to stand on its feet,” said Sam Ikwaye, Kenya Association of Hotel Keepers and Caterers coast executive director.

Yesterday, budget carrier Skyward Express resumed its flights from Mombasa to Nairobi and vice versa.

Safari Link Aviation announced that it will resume trips to Diani, Vipingo on May 6, while Malindi and Lamu will commence on May 7. Trips to Kisumu and Masai Mara commence today.

In their social media platforms, budget carrier companies separately stated that all passengers and airport users are still required to strictly observe the safety measures put in place.

Ikwaye says the hotel industry is now registering between 7-10 per cent local guests on leisure, conferencing and meetings at the coast.

Kenya Tourism Federation chairman Mohamed Hersi, welcomed the government’s decision and termed the lifting of lock down as a big relief to the sector.

The official, however, warned players against dropping the guard against the virus.

According to Hersi, the sector was far from recovering from the shocks posed by the virus, if Kenyans continue to disregard the set guidelines.

At the same time, Kenya Railways company KR has indicated that resumption of operations of the Madaraka Express Passenger Services between Mombasa and Nairobi and Nairobi Terminus and Suswa station start Monday morning (today).

“The schedule remains unchanged with the Inter-county train departing from Mombasa and Nairobi at 8:00 am; the Express train departing at 3:00 pm; and the Night train departing at 10:00 pm.

The booking platforms have been opened to the public for online purchase of tickets,” states the company through a notice to the public. 

The company indicated that unutilised tickets due to the just concluded Cessation of Movement Order will be used and urged customers to reschedule travel to a preferred date.

“We have waived the rescheduling fee for tickets purchased before May 2, 2021.

The Link train to Nairobi Terminus at 6:35 am; 12:00 pm; and 8:00 pm will be available to transport passengers to Nairobi Terminus and upon arrival from Mombasa,” reads the notice. By Christopher Owuor, PDOnline

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