Exit of Sarova Hotels: A Big blow to Taita Taveta Tourism and Economy

A couple of days one of our senior columnist, Amir Mangisi, observed and penned down an article on how the tourism industry has been vastly affected by this pandemic and with the developing scenarios it seems the hospitality industry is just about to get an unprecedented dent especially considering the factions that shape or depend on International Tourism… The big question is what happens to these hotels that highly depend on international tourists? How will they even manage their expenses post-COVID 19 before full recovery?

With the recent notice on the exit of Sarova Hotels and Resorts (set to take effect on 1st July), penned by Managing Director, Jimi Kariuki, dated and shared online 6th May 2020.  it definitely comes as a shocker to most of the us-the local residents, especially the Taita Taveta county tourism sector and her beneficiaries.

Sarova Taita hills and Saltlick as part of the Sarova group of hotels has been an unmistakable hospitality super brand and one of the most preferred destinations within the Tsavo Region over the past 13 years of operations, and currently managed by the veteran Mwadilo.

Sarova Salt Lick in Taita Taveta County

But, bearing in mind the Dynamics of this hospitality industry and the unpredictability, COVID-19 asserts that anything can change anytime, and this time they changed the wrong way on two of Taita’s prestigious hospitality movers, Shakers, and shapers …

It’s barely conceivable that these famous two hotels will no longer fly the  Sarova group of hotels brand locally.

It is indeed a saddening fact and takes us aback realizing further that the effects of COVID 19 are not only hitting the Health system but also in our own tourism sector.

Things are getting worse.

At this juncture, despite being optimistic, we can not avoid questioning ourselves; What happens now to the hundreds of personnel employed and subsequently the thousands of families who get their daily bread from those two hotels for the past 13 years?

Tough Questions!

Will they resume work post this pandemic or will they be required to look for greener pastures elsewhere? Will there be a new management ASAP and what will management do as far as re-establishing super brands that guarantee continuity? And how long will this potentially take? Will they be forced to look for new acquisition opportunities with another group of hotels or will they gather up the courage and build those two under new independent names?  Will they perhaps, start their own group of hotels? A lot more questions are still at stake.

And to the tourism sector in our county, haven’t we lost a hip bone by loosing these two giant hotels? Despite other big and legendary names in the game such as the Ashnils, Voi Safari Lodge, Lionhill, and the promising Vacani, I guess must still acknowledge this as a big loss.

The resorts which equally habour the World War 1 museum and artifacts, have been a source of tourists from all walks of life across the globe, which has consequently translated into insurmountable revenue?

These are some of the questions that am quite sure will linger in our minds if not for a long time. In the simplest forms, THERE WILL NO LONGER BE A SAROVA BRAND IN TAITA, perhaps not anytime soon.

And to you, as an individual, you might have once spent time over there in the past or not. Without the Sarova brand name attached, will it ever fell the same in your next visit?

Before we miss-conclude or question this move, economically,  it might have made lot’s sense to the management, with various analytical projections pointing to the fact that it might take not only them but also the industry at large,  months or possibly a couple of years or so to recuperate post COVID 19.

Besides, it’s just business.

I must say I did not see this coming…. Did you?

Lastly, it should sink in that we might have to do more generally as a people and as a county to get most of our economic sectors back to normal.

In the meantime, we can only say, Ahsante to the Sarova Group of Hotels Management at large, Veteran Wilson Mwadilo and team locally, for the 13-year run.

Bravo!

A copy of the Letter

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