To get a feel of how the hospitality sector is faring at the moment, you just have to look at recent developments involving big hotel brands that either reporting salary cuts or unpaid leaves as the tourism/ hospitality sector remains one of the biggest c********s of the COVID-19 P******c.

It gets worse. Recently, the Fairmont Hotel Group was forced to eat humble pie following government intervention after sacking all employees in two of its establishments including the  Fairmont Mara Safari Club and the iconic Norfolk Hotel.

Consequently, creativity to work around the current period has become a necessity for hotels if they are to keep their doors open and avoid possible collapse.

And behold…hotel bonds.

Hoteliers are taking a cue from the bond market. Governments and corporates raise capital by issuing bonds in order to spark growth, in this scenario, hotels need money now and have borrowed the bond concept in that you pay now and then stay later for services worth slightly more than your initial investment.

Swiss-owned Planhotel Hospitality Group is planning to roll out the same concept in its three properties in Malindi – Diamonds Dream of Africa, Sandies Malindi Dream Garden, and Sandies Tropical Village. Their plan however does not cover the Christmas period.

The Holidaybonds, available for purchase until June 15, 2020, will be valid for two years. The bond covers the value of one-night accommodation for two at any of their Kenyan properties, on all-inclusive basis-all meals and drinks- for 50% of the cost.

Planhotel’s Holidaybond is transferrable, meaning it can be gifted or sold on.

No booking date is required at time of purchase.

There is no restriction on the number of bed nights purchased, and the costs vary according to the property and start from Ksh9,500 to Ksh15,000 per night, for two. 

Opening in August 2020, Planhotel Malindi’s general manager, Alexander Zissimatos said: “The beneficiaries of the Malindi hotels Holidaybond is primarily to support the families and staff who have been with the establishment for the past four decades.

“We all look forward to welcoming guests back at our properties and have started training our 150 staff on the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) hotel standards for re-opening and maintaining post- COVID-19 protocols,” said Mr. Zissimatos in a press dispatch issued on Wednesday.

 “We will have a 24-hour vacated room turnaround program, so after the last guest has stayed no one, including our staff will enter the room for 24 hours. Further, our food and beverage set up will ensure social distancing between tables, with no buffet service.” he added.

According to Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala, the COVID-19 p******c has crippled Kenya’s hospitality sector with over 15 million Kenyans affected either directly or indirectly by loss of business. 

“This Buy Now Stay Later program is a valuable initiative for our hotel industry that has faced unprecedented challenges due to the COVID-19 p******c. It is being promoted in other parts of the world.  I hope other hotels adopt the model” Balala said in the j***t statement.

The Hard Hit Tourism Sector

The grounding on movement within and into the country has spelt doom for the tourism sector with the Parliamentary Budget Office (BPO) projecting that the strain being felt by the hospitality sector will have a ripple on other sectors as well

“The sector contributes to at least Ksh70 billion to the GDP, but the sector is a big employer with robust supply linkages with agriculture, wholesale and retail trade, manufacturing, and other sectors. Leisure and conference tourism, both external and domestic face possible collapse owing to travel restrictions which has completely stopped international tourist arrivals, while social distancing measures have affected domestic tourism and conferencing too,” the BPO said in a special bulletin.

Recently, the government pumped some Ksh2 billion to cushion the sector as players in the sector continue to plot a recovery plan.

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