By: JOSHUA MASINDE
Negative travel advisories and the impact of the Ebola crisis in West Africa last year pushed TPS Serena into loss in the first six months of this year.
The hotel chain made a loss of Sh97 million in the first half of 2015 compared with a net profit of Sh41 million in a similar period last year.
Turnover declined by a marginal 1.48 percentage point to Sh2.67 billion from Sh2.71 billion in the period under review.
Management blamed negative travel advisories to Kenya in light of insecurity incidents by the Al-Shabaab terror group to the poor performance in the period under review.
“Continued negative international publicity last year on the East African region in relation to insecurity, terrorism threats, the Ebola epidemic and the poaching menace cumulatively led to a slowdown in international leisure bookings to Kenya and Tanzania as it is usually during the second half of the previous year that holiday plans/commitments for the first half of the following year are made,” the hotel chain said.
Kenya continues to witness terror threats from the Al-Shabaab. In April this year, the terror group claimed responsibility for an attack on Garissa University College in which 148 lives were lost.
The group also claimed responsibility for an attack on the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi in September 2013 in which 67 lives were lost.
Coupled with other terror attacks at the coast and in the northeastern frontier of the country, the tourism sector has received a beating due to persistent travel advisories on the country.
The latest British travel advisory to the Kenyan coast was lifted on June 19, a development likely to lead to the revival of the tourism industry. The government also allocated Sh5 billion as part of the recovery plans for the sector this financial year.
“These will be key in turning around the tourism in destination Kenya, with an indirect positive impact expected within the East African region,” the hotel chain said.
Recently, Kenya hosted the Global Entrepreneurship Summit, which has reignited interest in the country as an investment and tourism destination.
In 2015 and 2016, Serena Hotels is expected to begin extension and refurbishment projects for the Nairobi Serena, the Kampala Serena and the Dar-es-Salaam Serena in anticipation of increased business as the region continues to witness increased business and leisure travel.