How is the Kenyan tourism sector handling the COVID-19 Crisis?

Yes, the future is uncertain, our businesses have received a huge blow. 

We are no longer anticipating the first case of COVID-19 infection but we are asking when this pandemic will come to an end. 

Despite all these uncertainties and fears, all hope is not lost. We are stronger together and we shall overcome. 

How we get our feet off the ground depends on how we react towards this pandemic. We can choose to throw away the lemons thrown at us or make lemonade out of them. 

What measures have the tourism stakeholders in Kenya put in place?

A dark moment has dawned on the tourism fraternity.

An industry that wholly depends on service, interactions and experiences. Making it impossible to survive COVID-19 which restricts human interactions. 

However, the industry is equipped with dedicated strategic leadership from the Cs tourism Najib Balala to the heads of SMEs in the sector. They have put in place measures to address this issue. Let’s take a look at each party’s strategies and measures.

Hotels and Restaurants

The health and safety of clients and staff are of paramount importance to the hotel and accommodation facilities in Kenya. They have employed various measures to ensure their safety is guaranteed. 

Below are some of the precautions employed by the Hospitality sector:-

  • Enforcing strict measures and guidelines to ensure hygiene practices are improved in all facilities. The use of hand sanitisers, water and soap by both the guests and staff in order to prevent transmissions.
  • They have also set up isolation areas to host and handle suspected cases of the Coronavirus. This move is very important because it prevents transmission to the healthy individual using the facilities.
  • Hotels have also worked on their cancelling policies. This is to address the Coronavirus crisis. Most of them permitted changing bookings to a later date without any additional charges. Moreover, they have reduced room charges in the effort of cost-cutting.

More importantly, some hotels have released their statements concerning the Coronavirus pandemic and the changes they have imposed on their facilities. These hotels include The Radisson Blu, The Pride Inn and Sarova Hotels. This has helped reduce anxiety while increasing the trust and confidence towards these facilities in tackling the pandemic.


Restaurants such as The Fort Restaurant in Mombasa have taken drastic measures to ensure that the staff and the general public are protected by shutting down their operations. This is to ensure that the guideline by WHO on social distancing is upheld during the COVID-19 crisis.

The Fort Restaurant announcement on closure of the facility for a month

Airlines

The Kenyan boarders, airports and docks are constantly being monitored and protected to prevent incoming COVID-19 cases.


The Kenyan National airline, Kenya Airways has adopted several measures to contain the COVID-19 case.

The measures have been adopted with the guidelines given by WHO on COVID-19.

Let me take you through them.

  • They have made it mandatory for all passengers to be properly screened before and after taking their flights. All suspected cases are addressed and reported to the relevant authorities.
  • All the airline crew have been trained and sensitized to handle the Coronavirus crisis. The staff have been provided with protective equipment like gloves and masks as they carry out their duties. Moreover, encouraging healthy hygiene practices such as handwashing by staff.
  • Healthy and safety measures have been enhanced by availing hand sanitizers and disposable hand towels in the aircraft and service areas.

  • Safe social distance has been encouraged to all staff and clients minimal personal contact advising guests to carry their own head/earphones.

  • Some flights have been suspended especially those heading to the Coronavirus epicentres e. g Rome – Geneva route. Clients can also reschedule their flights to a later date without any extra charges.

Kenya Airways has also been actively involved in updating the public on the status regarding COVID-19 regularly.To view regular status updates on COVID-19 click here

Sustainable tourism consulting agencies

Tourism consulting agencies have been playing an important role in the success of many businesses in the industry. They have carried out training for students and Tourism professionals to equip them with relevant skills and knowledge to thrive and operate sustainably.


During this period of the COVID-19 outbreak, they have been a supporting pillar to the industry. Encouraging businesses to take advantage of the opportunity presented. Although many businesses are experiencing a recession, they should pull their resources together and strategize.

  • Sustainable Travel and Tourism Agenda STTA have encouraged businesses in the sector to listen to clients and business partners and build trusted networks that will support innovation required for retention and recovery. They continue by stating that a crisis often leads to transformation urging that the tourism industry should remain ethical in its action and reaction towards the lockdown. For more information check THE STTA statement on COVID-19.
  • STTA has rescheduled all their in attendance programs engagements in order to respond to the government call on social distancing. They will resume as usual when movement restrictions are lifted.
  • In line with values of social solidarity, The Ecotourism Kenya and Travel life hotels have cancelled their training for the Tourism operators this month and they are working on conducting an online training.

  • The Global MICE Summit has organized a convention on how to combat unforeseen risks such as COVID-19 pandemic to be held in September 2020. This is a great idea to assist the industry to be equipped with the necessary skills and resources to combat future risks. Moreover, they have insisted on good hygiene practices and to keep a social distance.
Ecotourism Kenya and Travellife hotels announcement on Twitter

Tourism Ministry

The CS Tourism and wildlife Najib, Hon. Najib Balala has held consultative meetings with the tourism stakeholders on the state of preparedness on mitigating COVID-19, which has negatively affected the industry. urging the stakeholders not to lay off their staff at this time because of the pandemic. Strict measures and guidelines should be put in place to ensure high standards of hygiene on all facilities that are in operation. 

The Tourism Ministry has also set aside 500 million shillings in order to boost its post-COVID-19 recovery plan. Part Of these funds will be channelled towards recovering the status of Kenya being a preferred travel destination.

Let’s keep hope alive! 💪

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, we might be blinded by fear and uncertainties. 

Tourism industry has always recovered following many crisis experienced in Kenya including terrorism, political and economic instabilities. We have always bounced back and regained our position as a preferred travel destination in Africa. 

This is the time to carry out duties that you normally don’t have time for when busy hosting guests. 

Get prepared while you have time on your side by:-

Improving on your website and online engagement on social media sites like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, Train your staff (if possible online training) ,Create new tours and experiences, Conduct market research ,Connect with potential and new tour operator partners and start working on Sustainable tourism implementation and certification and adopt new technologies that can assist you work from home.

After the 2007 post-election violence the tourism industry was hit hard leading to many European countries issuing travel advisory to Kenya.The tourism numbers dropped significantly in 2008.However, the industry recovered later leading to increase in arrival numbers.

Kenya Tourist arrivals data by Ceic

Conclusion

Kenyan tourism industry has passed through a number of crisis and huddled.


History has proved that despite of the challenges we still manage to rise back up.


In fact, in most cases tourism has improved following significant economic performance.


The Kenyan tourism industry is resilient and we shall overcome! COVID-19 shall pass and travel shall resume.

Published by The Eco-traveller

I am a champion for sustainable tourism and conservation practices.I highlight tourism operators who operate under the principles of sustainable development.Let's travel,be responsible and have fun

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