After 53 years of operation, the iconic Hilton Hotel nestled in the heart of Nairobi's Central business district (CBD), will close down indefinitely. At the end of this year its disappearance could leave behind an great number of workers and disrupt the luxury sector.
"The Hilton Hotel is not only about tourism, it is also about the history of Nairobi, says Moses Otieno, a Nairobi resident,Actually when you see Nairobi without the photo of the Hilton Hotel, without the KICC (Kenyatta International Convention Centre), the Parliament buildings, actually that is not Nairobi".
Hilton Hotels, which has 40.57 per cent shares owned by the government is however not entirely quitting Kenya but will continue to operate its other brands in the country.
Other than the cash flow challenges, Steve Milimo adds that operating big hotels within the CBD is proving to be challenging."I don’t think it has much to do with the crisis that is going on through the hospitality industry but basically, I think it’s the current trend of the market how it is going, explains the branch superviser of Asamara restaurants in Nairob_i,_ Because if at all we take a look at how Nairobi CBD was and how the CBD is right now, you can honestly say that it is not so favorable for big Hotels to be there".
Nevertheless, the hospitality industry was in fact hit hard by Covid-19 rules and to stay afloat, hotels and restaurants adopted new strategies just like this company did.
"We took every measure possible to keep our staff safe and our customers safe and I think that proved to be a good decision in the long run because this particular branch that we are in, our Lavington branch was opened in the middl e of the pandemic", says Emily Sagini from Asmara restaurants.
The Hospitality and tourism industry is still volatile given the low number of tourists visiting the country and the burden of the current economic challenges on the potential local clients.
The closure of this hotel two years after the closure of iconic Intercontinental Hotel, paints a grim picture on the current situation of the hospitality industry in Kenya.
A report by Ronald Agak, Africanews correspondent in Kenya.