The impact of coronavirus on the Kenyan economy is being felt in the hospitality industry where closes airspace means tourists numbers have dwindled.
The East African country heavily depends on the sector as a source of foreign exchange, job creation and revenue. But the pandemic has threatened the survival of businesses.
However, Giraffe Manor, one of Kenya’s most famous hotels is making plans to survive the crisis. The outfit has continued to operate through the pandemic with reduced staff.
Fortunately for Giraffe Manor, we're in a city where we have a big base of people who still like to travel and experience these things.
Mary Lever-Morrison, General Manager of the facility admits the impact but says they will do all it takes to remain open: “Naturally, this has had an impact on our business. We had to see people leave early from their holidays and we had to lock down the manor and put everybody into quarantine.
“It has a domino effect in the sense that that affects our ability to fundraise for causes that are dear to our hearts, such as conservation of giraffes, but also wildlife in all the parts of Kenya.
“We’re very much a sustainable company with a lot of projects that help support communities, conservation projects – when the guests aren’t here; we’re not able to do that. So, it has an effect!”
With Kenya’s borders closed as of late March, the guests who have booked rooms had to adjust their schedules and booking. 88 per cent of guests postponed their trips and 12 per cent cancelled altogether.
Linet Okemo-Muhungi, Duty Manager at the facility added: “We’ve been asked to be at home because we have no clients, which is quite unfortunate, but there’s nothing really you can do if you don’t have clients. So, most of the staff have been at home during this time of COVID.”
But there is a silver lining for a bustling city like Nairobi where people still want to engage in local tourism. Manager Lever-Morrison outlines reopening plans: “Fortunately for Giraffe Manor, we’re in a city where we have a big base of people who still like to travel and experience these things.
“So, we have a reopening plan in place right now, and we’re hoping to welcome some of the residents of the city who might not have been able to enjoy it before because we do experience such high occupancies.
“So we’re going to do that, we’re also going to focus on some of our other businesses that surround what we do, so the retail sector, we’ve just launched an online shop, and we also have a Footprint Foundation to help us maintain the conservation and community projects that we already operate.”
The hotel’s management is hopeful that enough people in Nairobi’s busy and bustling city will be drawn to the expansive and quiet wilderness surrounding Giraffe Manor.