Domestic tourism is key to Kenya’s post-COVID-19 recovery

Kenya is facing an unprecedented health crisis which has consequently caused nationwide economic sabotage and deep development and social cost. 

The Tourism sector is however not left behind. With travel restrictions, social distancing and hygiene concerns on the rise, tourism has been drastically affected. That is why the priority right now is to facilitate the containment of the pandemic. 

According to the UNWTO’s report on COVID-19 travel restrictions, as of 20th April 2020, 100% of all worldwide destinations have introduced travel restrictions in response to the crisis. 

On March 25th, all international flights in and outside Kenya we’re suspended with only cargo planes still operating. 

5 counties in Kenya are on partial lockdown, whereby no one can leave or enter the said counties. Although movement within these counties is allowed. These counties include -Kilifi, Kwale, Nairobi, Mombasa and Mandera. 

In this situation, the only plausible target market for many tourism firms during the recovery period is the local tourists. 

During the KTF Travel and Tourism Webinar on 12th May 2020, Dr Betty Radier, CEO Kenya Tourism Board, comprehensively explains the need for Kenya to accommodate its domestic traveller market in its recovery plan.

The domestic traveller is no more different from the international traveller. There are certain demands that you have to fulfil in order for them to consider the idea of travelling to other places. 

A domestic traveller now wants to know the protocols of movement inside their country and whether you have met them.

For Domestic tourism to resume, the following issues have to be dealt with conclusively. 

  1. When will airlines resume operations? Is it in the next 3,6,9 or 12 months? This is very important since travel by air is the fastest and most convenient travel option available. 
  2. Determining how people prefer to travel. There so many means of travel including airline, train, private vans and taxis. This is critical in planning travel itineraries for clients. 
  3. The cost of travel is another important factor to consider. Currently, Kenyans are experiencing economic challenges. They are used to travel during the holiday periods like Easter and Christmas seasons. Providing affordable options for travel is key to attracting clients who want to travel but are facing financial constraints 
  4. Create travel opportunities to attract domestic traveller. This means that we will have to adjust our travel packages to cater to this market segment. It is a tough process of identifying their needs and priorities in designing their travel experience. 
  5. The time frame of the tourism recovery process. The steps that lead to the recovery from this crisis is crucial. The protocols that will be in place to allow for social distancing, hygiene practices and social distancing is important in raising the confidence levels of the client. Also, make sure that you meet the government rules concerning crisis management and client’s comfort should be the utmost priority. 
  6. Lastly, how we execute our marketing plan is very vital. During the Coronavirus pandemic, our audience is sitting at home ready to hear from us. We should strategies on how best to reach out to them and treat them with the importance they deserve. 

Its a sad reality that almost all our travel itineraries and options are designed for international clients. For the longest time, the domestic traveller has been left behind. The domestic traveller feels that they are not our target market hence prefer travelling and exploring other parts of the world. 

Now we have to show them places they haven’t been to in their own country. Give them a chance to rediscover their heritage. 

Rusinga Island Festival photo by Anne Eboso

We must woe the local tourist now so that in three to six months when all the protocols are reduced and make travel from county to county possible, the traveller can opt to travel comfortably. 

A local tourist experiencing the Luo culture photo by Anne Eboso

International travel will start crimping slowly in 2021. For now, showcase your products to Kenyans the same way you did to the international traveller. Make them feel important. 

Regardless of your target audience, be innovative and creative enough and assure them of these four important aspects 

  • Health 
  • Safety 
  • Price
  • The excitement that’s worthwhile 

Dr Better Radier challenges all the Tourism and Hospitality players to ask themselves

“What are you offering? And are you COVID ready?” 

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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