Challenges remain for Kenya’s hospitality industry


(Posted 25th August 2016)

TPS East Africa Limited, the company which is better known as Serena Hotels, has just announced the H1 results for the current financial year and, while posting a sharp reduction in losses compared to a year ago, is still facing challenges from the fallout of past year’s downturn in tourism arrivals.
A perhaps slower than hoped for recovery left TPS holding a 57 million Kenya Shillings red bag – compared to the same time last year when the figure stood at 97 million Kenya Shillings – but the company at the same time made it clear that when full year results become available, further improvements will be on the cards.
Serena, like everyone else, has benefitted from a strong domestic tourism performance but school holidays are limited to three times a year. Long weekends are winners for coast and the safari sector and special offers entice Kenyans to explore their own country. That however also lowers the yields and key for a full recovery is the international market. African arrivals are doing well but for key overseas source markets we still lack the charters like from the UK, which we had before. Even if we suddenly had a windfall from more international airlines flying to Mombasa, charter operations for the time being remain the key to higher occupancies‘ commented a regular source from Nairobi when asked to comment.
The challenging times though did not deter Serena to roll out some major works in their city hotels in Kampala and Dar es Salaam, where the former is adding some 36 rooms and suites to the existing 152, besides adding banqueting and other facilities like an Executive Lounge to the hotel. In Dar es Salaam work has started with a complete refurbishment and remodelling of the entire ground floor, done in several phases, which will see an entirely new lobby and restaurants emerge when the work is complete. Plans are also progressing to expand the company’s Kenyan flagship hotel, the Nairobi Serena and details will be revealed here in due course.
These multi million US Dollars upgrades and expansions will reportedly also extend to some other Serena properties, a sign that the company is looking ahead rather than backwards, a notion other hotel companies would do well to embrace too given the state of some of their properties in particular at the Kenya coast.