Western Kenya Hospitality Leaders Association has called for equitable sharing of the Sh2 billion stimulus package allocated by the government.
Chairman Robinson Anyal said fair distribution will facilitate the gradual reopening of hotels, which have suffered huge losses during the Covid -19 pandemic.
He said the funding would help jumpstart the tourism sector.
The money is part of the Sh53.7 billion stimulus programme announced by President Uhuru Kenyatta to revive the economy.
Hotel owners and managers from 11 counties met on Wednesday and said they want to be part of the task force determining how the Sh2 billion will be shared.
“Most of our hotels in the region are still new in the market. We want them to be fairly treated in the distribution of the money,” Anyal said.
Western Kenya Tourism Circuit comprises Kisumu, Siaya, Homa Bay, Migori, Kisii, Nyamira, Kericho, Bomet, Vihiga, Bungoma, Busia, Kakamega, Nandi, and Trans Nzoia counties.
Anyal said they are gathering data on revenue loss and staff payment for the last three months. The report will be submitted to the Ministry of Tourism.
Tourism is one of the country’s top sources of revenue. In 2019, earnings from the sector hit Sh163.56 billion following an increase in the number of tourists.
Rev William Ouya said they rely heavily on domestic tourism. “We are still young in the industry. We need to be nurtured to be equal to other regions,” he said.
Most of the facilities were forced to lay off staff.
Hotelier Philemon Orimba urged the government to support the Western Tourism circuit to help it flourish.
“The sector has totally collapsed because we have closed hotels. Staff was laid off and some cannot even afford to pay rent,” he said.
Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry Kisumu branch chairman Israel Agina wants 30 percent of the money to be given to hotels in western Kenya.
“Several hotel owners are unable to pay loans due to financial constraints. The staff is also jobless,” Agina said.
He said restricted movement, termination of international flights, and introduction of social distancing led to the collapse of the sector.
Hotels, Agina said, are the major employers in Western Kenya, hence the need to give them a priority.
Edited by Frank Obonyo