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Plastic Free Hotels in Kenya:Beating Single – use Plastics

The planet is on the verge of a global plastic calamity.With our oceans having to pay a heavy price for the worlds plastics,more tourism and hospitality players are acting by implementing environmentally friendly practices to reduce the pollution in the aquatic ecosystems.According to World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and Impact Hub statistics,since 1950, 8.3 billion tons of plastics have been produced and 79% end up in landfills and nature.These statistics are alarming depicting the severity of the matter.Many businesses and corporations ought to make efforts to beat single-use plastics that have threatened the ecosystem health.

In Kenya Hotels are dedicated to providing sustainable tourist experiences to its clients because of its immense financial,cultural and environmental benefits.Beating single-use plastic is one of their core objectives for their environmental management strategies.For instance,On 29th January 2019,Seventeen hotels pledged to join the plastic free East African Coast campaign organised by the UN Environment in collaboration with Kenya Tourism Federation (KTF) and Eco-tourism Kenya.This is a milestone in the fight for a plastic free coastline in East Africa.

PLASTIC FREE HOTELS
Which are the leading hotels in Kenya in combating the plastic menace?What efforts are being adopted to make our environment plastic free?

Many hotels in Kenya have become more environment conscious and made efforts to go plastic free.The following hotels have made their contribution towards a plastic free world

Serena Beach Resort and Spa

They are committed to preservation and responsible management of natural resources at their facility.In 2017 they built a walk in chess from 2,512 flip flops collected along the beaches with two themes i.e marine life and the life cycle of a butterfly.This creates awareness of the threats of marine plastic debris on the aquatic life as well as the importance of marine conservation.
In its efforts to face out single-use plastics, they have introduced use of biodegradable straws,they serve water on Carafe during meetings and conferences and replaced throw away amenity bottles(shampoo,shower gel and lotion).

Serena Hotel Chess
Walk in Chess

Tawi Lodge

Tawi lodge Located in Kilitome conservancy,issues its visitors with a re-usable water bottle for use during game drives and as a take-away souvenir. Glass bottles are also reused within the guest tents as drinking water cisterns. The initiative is aimed at plastic waste reduction.

Photo by http://www.theycallmedaktari.com/tawi-lodge-amboseli/
Glass water bottles in Tawi Lodge

Diani Reef Beach Resort and Spa

This spectacular resort on the Coastal beach of Kenya has resolved in using glass water bottles and bamboo straws in its effort to reduce plastic wastes to protect the marine life on its coastline.

PrideInn Hotels

They announced their commitment in scraping away the use of plastic water bottles in all their facilities in an effort to protect the marine ecosystem.
PrideInn Hotels introduced the “Eliminate plastics Campaign”,which involves encouraging the conference delegates and vacationers to use water from the dispensers instead of plastic water bottles.Moreover,they conduct occasional beach cleanups in order to collect all the plastic wastes for proper disposal are protection of the aquatic life.

PrideInn Hotel Single-Use Plastic Free Meeting Set-up

Hilton Hotels

Hilton Hotels have stopped the use of single-use plastics in all guests and meeting
Rooms embracing the use of glass bottles while eliminating purchase of plastic straws in order to reduce the amount of plastics that end up in landfills annually.

Glass Water bottle at Hilton Hotel, Nairobi

Medina Palms

Medina palms are not left out as well since they have resolved to banning use of plastic straws and water bottles in serving guests.Instead they use bamboo straws and glass bottled water.

Other Hotels that are making efforts towards plastic free world by using glass bottles and bamboo straws in their facilities include:

  • Turtle Bay Beach Club
  • Afrochic Diani
  • Baobab Beach Resort and Spa
  • Sands at Nomad Diani Beach

conclusion

Plastics have been useful in our daily lives and have been used in so many ways.However,the detrimental effects of plastics on our marine, rural and urban cities forces us to rethink its use.The tourism industry is making tremendous efforts to protect the environment by going plastic free.

More emphasis should be put in creating awareness on plastic pollution to change guests and stakeholders to be environmentally conscious.We should rethink and initiate cultural and behavioral changes towards a plastic free world.

Biodiversity conservation and tourism amidst Coronavirus crisis in Kenya

What is the relationship between Biodiversity and Tourism?

What is the conservation situation during the COVID-19 crisis?

What is the way forward? 

Stellamaris Miriti the Director Stejos tours and travel and Kevin Lunzalu the coordinator, Kenya Youth Biodiversity Network critically tackled these issues in the WorthWhile Travel Hub tweetchat. 

With years of experience in their respective tours and Biodiversity management fields, they provided interesting and well-informed views. 

Let me take you through the discussion and the important points.

The Correlation between Biodiversity and Tourism

Biodiversity is the variety of life on Earth, in all its forms and all its interactions. If that sounds bewilderingly broad, that’s because it is.

From this, tourism doesn’t operate competently without biodiversity.

In another view, there are other forms of tourism that don’t necessarily depend on biological diversity like the MICE.

These other forms of tourism make up less than 30% of all tourism in Africa. That just shows how crucial it is for Africa to maintain different forms of life. 

Stellamaris explained that biodiversity and Tourism exist in a mutually beneficial relationship.

Biodiversity is a large part of what makes tourist destinations. While on the other hand, visiting these destinations serves to heighten awareness of their aesthetic, social, and educational value and it provides local communities with an income to cater for their daily needs and an incentive to preserve their natural environment.

“I am a strong believer that tourism is a positive and negative contributor to biodiversity, affecting both the loss of biodiversity and the conservation of nature,” she added

Tourism also benefits biodiversity by the creation of protected areas and conservation of charismatic species.

Tourism contributes to at least if not all the principal pressures of biodiversity loss: habitat change, overexploitation, pollution, invasive alien species and climate change. Yet, the loss of biodiversity means loss of tourism potential.

Stellamaris Miriti

This is what caused the emergence of initiatives like Ecotourism to help create avenues for sustainable tourism development. 

Kevin Lunzalu pointed out that Biodiversity has direct and indirect relations with tourism.

Depending on how it is executed, tourism can be an important tool to drive natural capital sustainability-through Ecotourism and conservation revenue used in the management of protected areas.

He added “tourism plays an important role in actively relieving biodiversity hot-spots from unsustainable consumption pressures like hunting, farming, logging, mining, fishing, etc”

Kevin highlighted that wildlife tourism has created employment opportunities all over the world as seen in the statistics below

Jobs supported by wildlife tourism

Generating sustainable revenues for conservation and development

It’s a fact that conservancies and national parks alike can barely fund their operations.

Protected areas should shift over-dependence on tourism. Biodiversity offers varied sustainable options for revenue streams.

Sustainable Travel and Tourism Agenda highlighted that tourism should never be the sole revenue stream for conservation and protected areas.

Other viable and compatible revenue-generating activities exist. Payment for Ecosystem Services approaches should be encouraged. For example carbon credit schemes, grass banks etc

Stellamaris advised that there should be equitable distribution of earnings from wildlife and natural habitats.

This would increase support, and educational awareness programs for communities to understand how conservation works and why it is important. This way the community is able to take care of their natural heritage.

“Better innovations in technology i.e advances in forensics, battery life, GPS tracking devices, and drones would surely be the next game-changer for conservation efforts,”  she added 

Infra-red cameras used by ol pejeta conservancy

Kevin said that it is important to note that tourism revenues do not fully cover the total costs of conservation in most protected areas. Conservation areas often have multiple ways of raising much-needed resources for their operations. 

However, these are some of the ways they could cope with the current and foreseeable loss in tourism revenue: 

  • Merging of conservation areas that border each other, to cut on operational costs, and create extensive natural areas.
  • Local tourism.
  • Redesigning and exploring conservation models that enhance the co-existence of the local community and nature. 
  • Creating viable partnerships with other sectors (finance, health, youth, technology, etc)
  • Crowd-funding to establish alternate income-generating ventures in support of conservation.
  • Seeking conservation support from the government and through grants. 
  • Well established conservation areas can support emerging (vulnerable) ones.

How  communities continue with conservation

A resilient protected area should actually have diverse economic activities that should compensate for the failure of one.

Since the onset of the Coronavirus crisis, Tourism has become a lost livelihood opportunity and therefore communities seek other ways to survive, for instance, some communities have gone into crowdfunding and sustainable ranching. 

Beyond the diverse economic generating activities, there should be co-ownership and co-management of protected areas based on local values and science. 

We must see biodiversity for other values apart from tourism. When we develop a relationship with biodiversity, that is not anchored on tourism, our Conserved Areas will endure. This is the education that our young generation should receive

Judy Kepher Gona

Stellamaris insisted that the government and all stakeholders have to assist with all necessary resources.

We have been singing the tune of ‘nature versus people’ which is visibly not sustainable.

The community is needed to achieve inclusive and sustainable development. Only a few know the need for conservation. The moment it becomes a fight between people versus nature then at the end there’ll only be one loser.  

Saghala residents demonstrate because of increasing human wildlife conflict

More importantly, developing a strong sense of ownership and value within the residents.

When the community has a sense of ownership for both animals and flora species in their areas, they would be more involved in conservation efforts and also create avenues for more ideas to promote Sustainability. 

Challenges facing Biodiversity conservation and sustainable tourism

A lack of accountability within Biodiversity Conservation and tourism is a challenge.

Some tour operators are running ‘greenwashing’ ventures in the name of sustainable tourism while some conservancies are not held accountable for the loss of biodiversity in their protected areas. 

National tourism planning frameworks have conventionally put the focus on practices boosting socio-economic development with limited regards to biodiversity conservation has quite been a challenge.

Stellamaris explained that interference of Wildlife corridors is another huge challenge to biodiversity protection; there is a lack of by-laws to protect the corridors against unsustainable use and activities that are incompatible with biodiversity conservation. 

Furthermore, pandemics such as  Corona, Aids, Ebola: Increase unsustainable rates of harvesting medicinal plants to treat them, Increase rates of illnesses and deaths among park rangers etc which ultimately weaken the performance of the sector.  

Climate change, growing demand for space and resources from increasing human populations and change in land use have become the biggest threat to biodiversity.

Aligning and actioning tourism practice and trade with conservation objectives and sustainable development goals remain important if transformative conservation through sustainable tourism is to be achieved 

The challenge of transitioning from knowledge & commitments to actual development actions is the biggest challenge in achieving sustainability in tourism

Kevin asserted that Local communities are not widely exposed to policies governing biodiversity conservation, and are equally not aware of their rights to the utilization of the natural resources.

This not only enhances conservation but also the resilience of such communities to participate in informed decision making hence having an upper hand in the stake of addressing underlying risks

“Increased sophistication of irrational exploitation of natural resources, make it hard for conservation managers to timely and efficiently track illegal activities such as poaching.” He added.

African Elephants and Rhinoceros poaching statistics

Best practices that protect both biodiversity and tourism businesses

Tourism stakeholders should aim at creating shared value for all.

They should take responsibility for the negative impacts they cause on the environment and communities in protected areas. Strong partnerships, equitable benefit sharing & resilience should be best practices. 

Stellamaris said that transforming biodiversity resources such as wildlife from a liability to an asset, communities will be motivated to align their behaviour with conservation goals.  

“Diversification of tourism products and services while achieving the well-being of the local community is essential, which can be attained by education and training programs,” she added. 

There is an urgent shift from the conventional way of conservation tourism, to a boosted model that largely depends on local travellers.  

Kevin added that tourism businesses should explore varied destinations circuits to ease the pressure on conservation areas, and provide varying experiences and products to their clients.  

The time to shift to other modes of delivering tours, other than physical/crowded means, is NOW.  Businesses should be innovative and think of resilient means of keeping their clients satisfied. Technology-based travel is quickly taking shape

Kevin Lunzalu

Tour businesses should use this time to reassess the current and future needs of their clients and adjust accordingly to the new normal. Moving forward, for instance, health safety is going to be a primary consideration of every traveller. 

The opportunities can Biodiversity conservation and Tourism derive from the COVID 19 pandemic? 

Sustainable Travel Tourism Agenda commenced by pointing out that, we should expect innovative sustainable conservation and business approaches being applied in protected areas. Use of technology has become important and necessary. Moreover, the role of communities in wildlife conservation and the importance of addressing their needs will be a priority

Stellamaris went ahead to challenge the tourism players to take the bull by the horns. They were urged to use varied resources and human capital to generate revenue for conservation instead of asking for assistance or support through Go fund me and other platforms each and every day.

“Conservationists should give people a reason to support nature for the same reasons they do. Just think of the amount of revenue that was generated and is still being generated by films like The Lion King and Zootopia,  among many others” she continued.  

It’s about time we take advantage of people’s love of and fascination with nature. Instead of doing Gofund me to raise money for conservation, we should come up with amazing films that can be sold and the revenue generated go towards conservation efforts. 

Another opportunity is building world-class games that create a direct connection between people and wild animals, use technology for people to understand how conservation works. While at it, let’s have good programs in our communities to train and empower them. Not forgetting to encompass their own traditional knowledge into the new systems being set in place.

Covid-19 is suspected to have originated from unsustainable consumption of wildlife resources. We should expect more attention to the importance of climate change, poaching and environmental damage.

Kevin pointed out that there have been sightings of nature trying to recover from human-induced pressure. However, this may provide false hope, and it is important that we consider the sustainability of biodiversity beyond Covid-19 pandemic.

“The COVID19 pandemic has provided deep insights on how a crisis affects humanity. The desperate and urgent measures seen to curb the spread of the virus should, in equal intensity, be employed to fight the biodiversity loss crisis,” he added. 

Hopefully, humans will reconsider habits that destroy our natural environment. We have to re-evaluate our consumption and production patterns, energy types, farming practices, wildlife trade, and possibly embrace a circular economy. 

Countries and policy stakeholders will hopefully learn on how inter-connected the world is, and for once, move in a unified voice and strength to push for reforms in the conservation sector.

Conclusion 

The new normal is here with us. When we understand the relationship between tourism and biodiversity, we can be adequately equipped to promote their well- being and coexistence.

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Ciao

Remember to wash your hands🙌 and keep a social distance.

Stay safe😊

Challenges and opportunities created by Coronavirus crisis on the Tourism and Hospitality sector in Kenya

Since the first case of COVID-19 infection was reported in Kenya on 13th March 2020, the country’s economy has been drastically affected. 

The Tourism sector in Kenya has been facing challenges since restrictions on travel have been adopted. Most companies have been forced out of business while the workers sent on unpaid leave. 

This is soo devastating to many communities that depend on tourism for a living. 

Coronavirus crisis has come with so many challenges but at the same time has given rise to multiple opportunities. However, you can only capitalize on the opportunities once you have identified them 

Today I will take you through a tweetchat session hosted by WorthWhile Travel Hub. The guest speaker was Alan Dixson, Founder and Managing Director Uniglobe Lets Go Travel. 

Alan took us through the session. He provided thought provoking and valuable takeaways that will assist tourism and travel managers and business owners take advantage of the opportunities presented during the Coronavirus pandemic. Moreover, it will help them sail through the challenges. 

1. How is COVID-19 pandemic/crisis different from all other crisis that the Tourism sector in Kenya has faced before?

One of the things that makes this crisis different is that Air travel has stopped. This is very unique since air travel has never been halted worldwide. While working in the travel sector for over 45 years in Kenya, Alan says that each and every day there has been passenger flights to/from Kenya & worldwide

Photo by Anna Shvets from pexel

Secondly, Business has stopped. He explains that overseas tourists are all gone while domestic tourists cannot travel due to ‘lock-down’ in some of the counties in Kenya. Some parts of the country might open up sooner than others but still stiff Govt control measures restrict travel.  

The COVIDー19 crisis is also different since it affects socialisation, an aspect that tourism relies heavily on. Without human interactions, the whole sense of travel and experience is diminished

The other crisis Kenya has faced before are related to risks in security and natural disasters. This is the first health risk that has been experienced throughout the world leading to travel restrictions. 

Lastly, the COVIDー19 crisis in tourism has a worldwide reach, the other risks Kenyan tourism industry has experienced were specific to the country.

2. What is the biggest challenge that we are likely to face as a destination post-COVID-19?

Kenya’s tourism sector currently is facing serious challenges due to the Coronavirus pandemic. 

Alan Dixson  stated that With travel advisories coming into play, some destinations might experience ‘under tourism’ hence a prolonged disaster for communities and businesses dependent on tourism. This is a huge challenge. Certainly, Communities and Conservancies that rely on all aspects of Tourism will be affected. Visitors will take real notice of travel advisories, and all the regulations around New Travel. 

Photo from The Enasoit Collection

Another challenge is that international Tourists will not be confident to travel. The new health crisis that has led to many people losing their lives worldwide will deter them from making travel arrangements in foreign territories. They need to know that they will be safe. 

The cost of doing business is considerably high and has overtime driven prices higher making it difficult for an average domestic traveller to be interested in actually travelling.

Not to mention the guidelines introduced that will have the potential of driving prices higher.

3. What support system (s)/strategies would you recommend to assist the tourism industry to survive this crisis? 

Alan elaborated that Government should reduce taxes; currently, hotels pay approximately a total of 26% tax inclusive Training Levy! The government should give incentives, tax breaks or staff incentives – how? I am not sure.!

“I keep banging on about it. What about the 500 million Ministry of Tourism received in the budget?” He insisted.

Part of these funds should be allocated to provide incentives for small businesses in the tourism sector. 

4. What are the opportunities that might arise from this pandemic for the Tourism and Hospitality sector in Kenya? 

First, is the opportunity for Domestic Tourism to thrive and diverse travel offers. For example, Hotels or Lodges can give deals of 3 nites for the price of 2, free glass of wine. Encourage Community Tourism which offers are a WinWin for both parties. Another is the opportunity for learning and planning for risk management in future uncertainties. 

Technology development for destination Kenya is also a great opportunity presented by the Coronavirus crisis. Especially, in data management and utilization.  

One of the biggest opportunity for the tourism and hospitality industry would be the growth and development of e-learning systems. COVID19 has turned the education system on its head. New policies to fully support all e-learning systems as well as better budget allocation.  

Finally, Maximising digital media and creating virtual destination experiences. It is also an opportunity to rebrand to a destination experience brand while contributing to building a strong national brand that is peaceful, secure and developed 

Photo by Mali Maeder on pexel

5. What should small businesses and DMO’s factor in during their marketing campaigns post COVID-19?

Alan says that These institutions should “Think out of the box”. There are so many products to showcase i. e Corporate trips, Team Building Malewa Bush Ventures, Ragati Conservancy, Climb Mount Kenya, Stay with a Community at Suswa staycations e. t. c. 

Fishing in Ragati conservancy. Photo by Andrew Cameron

He added that they should work with existing clients who have used their services. They know you & have more confidence in you rather than a strange or newly discovered company. 

build and use your mail lists and direct mail. Now it is important to keep in contact with your clients more than ever. 

6. What advise will you give small business and entrepreneurs in order to stay in afloat post COVID-19? 

Alan Dixson emphasized, “Cut Costs NOW!”. Staff, Rent and Internet communication. If you are paying rent to negotiate a discount or for staggered payments later. If you are borrowing from a bank, negotiate delays on repayments of principal and interest. Cut all Capital costs.

Moreover, you can Put your Tour or Travel business on the side burner – do something different, think of other income-generating ways, for example, grow indoor plants while in quarantine. Diversify revenue streams, cut costs, if you have staff, support them to work from home.

Photo by Ivan Samkov from pexel

Conclusion

Although many businesses are facing challenges during the Coronavirus crisis, there is light at the end of the tunnel.

If you look at the glass as half full, you will be able to see the opportunities presented and you can capitalise on that.

The sea is rough, with high turbulence and stormy weather, however, it shall all pass and we shall sail to the other side.

Kenyan tourism and hospitality operators, we are in this together, we shall overcome.

I would like to appreciate Alan Dixson for gracing this tweetchat session and providing useful information to all who attended.

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Ciao 👋

Stay safe

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?” 

STTA Young Changemakers; What possible changes in cities, awaits tourism after COVID-19?

This is a tweet chat summary organised by STTA Young Change Makers on 2nd May 2020 on “What possible changes in cities, awaits tourism after COVID-19?” 

What are the main drivers of city tourism?

City trips are the number 1 international holiday type. Since 2007, international city trips have tripled their volume, reaching 190 million in 2017. 

Photo by Yonko Kilasi from Unsplash

The substantial growth of city tourism is driven by spatial, social, economic and technological forces.

High disposal income is one of the main drivers of city tourism. People here have more disposable income from there savings to have the leisure of exploring their city. 

Cities provide better all the components for tourism to thrive. The amount of development within cities enable for the 4A’s of tourism i. e Attractions, Accessibilities, Accommodation and Amenities. 

Decreased travel costs e.g. budget airlines, use of the cheap mode of transport like tuk-tuks, bicycles or just walking tours. Transport is greatly reduced due to the availability of good transport networks and cheaper modes of transport. 

ICT advancements is another driver for city tourism. Good ICT systems assist in the marketing and promotion of cities through digital technology. Moreover, innovation in ICT field helps in the diversification of tourism products. 

City destinations offer a wide range of cultural, architectural, technological, social and natural experiences and products for leisure and business which attracts visitors from all over the world. 

Other drivers of city tourism are short term rental markets and meeting incentive conferences.

What will change with COVID-19?

The discussions around overtourism will reduce. Also, before Covid_19 tourism success = numbers, post Covid_19 new ways of quantifying tourism success will come up…hygiene and social distance will be crucial to boosting tourist confidence levels.

Tourism changes and transforms urban spaces and vice versa. Our focus today is what these transformations may look like after Covid_19. 

Photo by Gustavo Fring from pexels

Measurement of city competitiveness will change forever post COVID-19 

There will be an increase in online tours in order to respond to social distancing measure. This trend will continue until traveller’s confidence is regained 

Secondly, while trying to reboot tourism in the city, entertainment areas and other large-scale tourism infrastructures such as stadiums, and convention centres will practice population management by limiting the size of the audience. 

Many shared spaces in the restaurant, accommodation and MICE sector will be redesigned to give travellers confidence. 

On the other hand, small scale support services that offer jobs and unique character of a city will be under severe economic risk, due to increased online tourism. They have a great challenge to improve their competitiveness by changing their operations to regain the confidence of the tourists. 

After COVID – 19, Guests will be interested in facilities that offer open spaces. These spaces reassure visitors of good air circulation and social distancing measures. 

City entry points such as airports and train stations will be restructured. They will be pandemic-proof through enhanced sanitation, social distancing measures, temperature checks and health screenings. 

Event organisers should also expect strict policy changes in terms of conference layout. Most clients will prefer open space for meetings and workshops.

Who will be affected most by these changes? Is it businesses, residents, or tourists?

Tourism is interdependent on a number of factors, so the effect will be felt across all stakeholders. Therefore, It is important for cities to be guided not only with data in their responses to COVID-19 crisis but also with values, specifically the Sustainable Development Goals SDGs so that we recreate our cities as liveable spaces for residents that offer quality life for all.

Photo by Zac Wolff from unsplash

Although changes will affect all of the three stakeholders, in some cases policies that are passed in a country may favour business and tourists where residents are left helpless. 

Who or what will influence these changes in cities?

Most changes show that tourism planning in cities will take an approach that considers physical planning, and architecture and urban design.

Cities must first and foremost be designed for liveability by residents. These places must be conducive for the residents to live, socialize, carry out their businesses and relax comfortably. 

The authenticity of historical and culturally significant monuments and sites should be kept intact. This is a very important concern in maintaining and conserving the destinations culture and history. On the other hand, commercialization of culture will be taken a notch higher, affecting the authenticity of these tourism products. 

Tourism has been a popular agenda in urban policy for the longest time. The World Health Organization includes city residents, the government and stakeholders in urban planning. The WHAT will revolve around Safety of the tourists and residents.

The changes in consumer trends is another important factor. The changes in consumer preferences will influence changes that will enable the consumption of city tourism products. 

The pressure to restore the cities image will influence these changes. This is because the image of tourism destination cities will have to be rebranded which will have an impact In the decision-making process for destinations

What would you encourage tourism leaders to do, in preparation for the changes & a new normal? 

Tourism leaders should offer firm and progressive leadership in the industry. This includes:-

  • Relaying important information to tourism stakeholders 
  • Providing necessary support, resources and steady guidance towards embracing the new normal 
  • Develop a short-term marketing plan focused on local tourism segments 
  • launch and develop a cooperative marketing grant fund to provide incentives to Tourism firms in the Country 
  • Support international tour operators and low-cost airlines to start bringing visitors to our destination
  • To walk the talk and practice values they flex for a sustainable future. The new anticipated normal could be the game-changer. 
  • Make low-cost loans available to help tourism businesses during this crisis 
  • Create/strengthen the government safety net for the tourism workforce that lose their jobs because of forced layoffs
  • Diversify tourism marketing to make sure all attractions even those in remote areas are captured. 
  • Rethink on how to design and market tourism products in order to avoid over-tourism. It is time to restart and revive the Tourism Industry.
  • Positioning the business sustainably to tap into the opportunities presented in the new environment
  • Focus on providing an unforgettable experience. This is what connects the visitors to the destination. It is important for the tourism leaders to  Rethink tourism  

Parting short

Destinations must rethink what more, tourism means. We need a better model for tourism. We need sustainable tourism. 

MORE visitors is NOT always equal to more money. This is the reality destination marketing organizations must accept and respond to, post COVID-19 

Cities are now challenged to put in place crisis management measures in case of another threat that befalls the tourism sector. It is over to the policymakers, DMOs, tourism planners and operators to deliver safer, liveable cities for tourism business to thrive 

Conclusion 

Moving forward, innovation in marketing for the domestic tourism market is needed in the wake of the new normal. Every country is requesting its citizens to support their local market first and Magical Kenya should not be left behind. 

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Crisis communication webinar by The Sustainable Tourism and Travel Agenda and Tour Operators Society of Kenya

Tourism businesses have so many questions regarding what to tell their clients, supply chain and community at large.

The Sustainable Tourism and Travel Agenda and Tour Operators Society of Kenya organised this webinar to support Small and medium enterprises to manage the current turbulence caused by the Coronavirus crisis and accelerate into the new normal. 

The hosts of this event were:-

  • Anthony Ochieng 

Chief Technical advisor

  • Judy Kepher-Gona 

Advisor, Analyst, strategy in sustainable tourism

  • Prof. Marina Novelli

Professor of Tourism and International Development and academic lead for Responsible future research and Entreprise Agenda – University of Brighton

Speaker 

  • Lucy Atieno

Tourism Researcher, Sustainable Travel and Tourism Agenda. 

During a crisis we tend to Concentrate on what is happening in the external environment, this makes us lose our identity or in other words, who we are.

The main objective of this webinar is to learn how to build a crisis communication plan that will uphold your values and encourage people to have shared responses

Evolution of a crisis and sector responses

When the novel Coronavirus crisis hit the world, many sectors were seriously affected. However, the tourism industry was one of the most affected sectors. the fact that it is a service industry relying on human interactions,  the sense of feeling and that it is highly perishable made it highly vulnerable and exposed to risks. 

Let us look at the Tourism and travel sector crisis communication response during the COVID-19 pandemic, step by step. 

Tourism is hit by a crisis

Response: industry focuses on cancellations of bookings

In the initial months when the world was hit by the Coronavirus crisis, communication from most businesses was all about booking cancellation policies.

This framed the situation of an economic crisis, we were all guns blazing trying to cushion ourselves from losing income

WHO announces COVID-19 as a pandemic

Response: The Industry shifts focus to recovery through relief programs and economic stimulus

This focused on the economics side. The industry is viewed as egocentric, working alone and has not yet given a human touch to its crisis communication. 

This move had a short term focus not considering the consequences.

Industry campaign for Travel Tomorrow and Together in Travel

Response: Returned focus on the Traveller 

At this stage, we gave value to the human touch. We were being empathetic and our focus returned back to the Traveller. 

Campaigns such as Do not cancel, Travel Tomorrow and The Magic Awaits illustrated that we cared for our clients and that their health and safety takes precedence. 

Our customers should stay home and dream of the magical places which they will experience tomorrow 

Opportunities for new learning 

Response: webinars for tourism 

This stage is very unique because the value of businesses started to emerge. 

The crisis communication focus shifted from the individual perspective as seen in the first phase to a value-based standpoint.

This was a complete transformation of the mindset since we see organisation value-based communication. The sector represented the other side of who we are in how it communicated. 

Responsible tourism businesses indicated that they cared about saving the wildlife during the crisis since poaching was on the rise, Hotels now opened their doors to the frontline workers to stay in order to prevent them from infecting their families and lodges welcomed vulnerable people in the society i. e the aged and people living in the streets. 

The industry also invited other stakeholders to be part of the solution facing the global economy. 

An example is the conservancies in the Maasai Mara who asked for assistance in helping the members of the community who relied on tourism for a living and are now helpless. Astonishing enough their loyal clients reached out to help in their course. 

Way forward /looking ahead

The industry is now looking internally to rebuild its systems. 

We are now working together with a common plan. 

For example the call from World Travel and Tourism Council “we are in this together” 

This pulled everyone together and made a crisis communication strategy inclusive. 

It is now perfectly clear that the messaging on cancellation policies was a short term solution and did not sit well with the consumers. 

Travellers want more, they want to know what type of business you are. 

More importantly for you to build trust with your consumers ensure that you:-

  • Provide Reassurance 
  • Be persistent in communication 
  • Provide regular impact reports. 

Note: Do not be silent during the crisis and come out after the pandemic asking customers to purchase what you have to offer

Crisis Communication 

Crisis communication is a leadership tool that helps an organization to come out of a crisis.

Let me take you through the roles of crisis communication as presented by Lucy Atieno.

Roles for crisis management 

  • Crisis management used to be apologetic. 

Businesses struggled with what to say to their networks. It was all about being apologetic for the unfortunate events that have occurred and nothing else 

  • Focus on crisis management as a tool for image repair

This focus sees crisis communication as a make-up strategy. 

A great way of building a business image or brand

The setback is that this focus is narrow since you are only limiting your communication to the survival interests of your business. 

  •  Crisis communication as a tool for renewal, growth and transformation 

When you define crisis by acknowledging the opportunities available and defining the specific threats you are facing then your communication will be better, ethical and inspiring 

You will be able to

  •    Learn about the opportunities available. New knowledge means better performance 
  •   Engage with different networks to form new alliances or collaborations to help you through the crisis.

If Kenya learnt from its previous experiences with a crisis such as the Kikambala bombing in 2012, Norfolk Hotel attack in 1980 and the Alshabab attacks in the Country which led to many source markets for tourism giving travel advisories to their citizens not to visit Kenya. Now we could be in a better position to handle the Coronavirus crisis at hand 

On the other hand, other nations are looking out for our game plan in handling crisis communication since

  • They feel we are in a better position to respond because we have a history of the crisis in the tourism industry in Kenya. It is an assumption that we drew lessons from them and we are now equipped to handle the Coronavirus pandemic. 
  • We are a pilot of success in communication crisis. Kenya has received a fair share of travel advisories from the previous crisis but still, it remains to be the desired holiday destination. 

Communication steps for improving crisis response 

Crisis communication steps

1. Understanding your audience who needs to hear your communication most

Direct your communication to people who may have limited understanding about an issue and are open to being informed. 

There are many people in this category hence understand the diversity in your audience. 

Among your audience are the customer, government, supply chain and partners 

Many peoples will be against your information and end up providing counter statements. Don’t focus all your time in engaging them since you will end up wasting a lot of time refuting their claims and helping them publish their opinion. 

This is why it is very important to have boundaries in your messaging audience. 

2. Vision for your responses

Lead communication with a vision of what responding collectively looks and feels like. 

A vision for your responses helps avoid the following pitfalls
  •  Leading with the problem we need to tackle

This focus will provide a short term solution since after handling the problem you will not have a lasting impression with your audience.

  • Leaping straight to the solution 

A vision will help you avoid jumpstarting straight to the solution since this shows that you are working in isolation and not as a team

An important question that needs to be answered is what informs the solution? 

  • Leading communications with alarming statistics 

Use of alarming statistics during a crisis can lead to stigmatization, fear trauma or shock in the industry. 

Your audience will think that the situation is out of hand and is beyond repair. 

You need to package your message in the right way. 

  • Getting derailed with misinformation or unhelpful narratives

This will make you start myth bursting instead of putting yourself in a favourable position. 

3. Make it a priority to communicate what matters most to your audience 

The values that matter most

4. Incorporating better explanations

The following will show you how to integrate your preferred audience and vision into your messaging 

  • Framing 

How you frame your message depends on the segment you are operating in be it wildlife, economic health and social environment. 

Also, frame your message differently depending on your audience i. e supply chain, client, investors or government 

What values define your relationship with different audiences will guide you in framing your crisis message. 

  • Explanatory Chains

Sometimes people do not want empathy in your communication, they want reassurance.

Especially during the Coronavirus crisis being experienced globally, how can you reassure clients that it will be safe for them to use shared facilities. 

  • Using facts

How much is enough to share?

Not every fact about the crisis should be shared to your audience. Choose wisely what should be shared publicly 

Use enough facts and reassurance for better explanations

5. Speaking out 

What is your key message?

As a business, your crisis communication has to make clear the key message. for example, when you will return, you will experience the magic

When speaking out you should follow the rule of the thumb.

Rule of the thumb 
  • Understanding the crisis in context 
  • Understand your audience 
  • Ask for help 
Staying on the message 
  • Begin or end your statements with a reiteration of your key message, yet strike a proper balance so as not to appear to be trying to convince a person of something that is not true 
  • Don’t repeat messages word for word every time you use them 
  •  Messages should be simple concise and realistic 

Parting remarks

Travel and tourism associations have an important role to play in leading crisis communication with its members. They can assist members in building strong networks and new alliances in order to make the necessary strides in crisis communication.

A business can avoid noise in its crisis communication if they adhere to framing their message well, how they speak out and ensure that it’s inspiring and brings transformation. Here you invite others to be part of your communication.

A guide to building your crisis massage by Sustainable Travel and Tourism Agenda

Takeaway exercise

Conclusion

This was an eye-opening session for the tourism players who attended the session. These insights are applicable in dealing with crisis communication.

Do not worry or panic if you are a small and medium-sized entrepreneur and can’t afford to hire a consultant firm for your crisis communication. This information is gold and can help you sail through rough turbulence of a crisis.

sttachangemakers discussing risks & uncertainties affecting our destinations.

Risks for tourism destinations and operators may arise from internal (organisational) sources or from external events(community events such as the impact or threat of a disaster).

They are not simply bigger events; they have a significant impact upon people and infrastructure and thus upon tourism facilities, operations, local communities and visitors. They also produce long-term problems of restoration and rehabilitation and so may affect the return to normal of tourism activities for a considerable period of time. 

In addition, most or all of the businesses reliant on tourism will also be impacted to a significant extent.

When disaster strikes a destination, who is at risk?

All the Tourism stakeholders from the local communities, tourism businesses the tourists and Environment are affected by disasters that strike a destination. However, some elements are more exposed and vulnerable to the risks than others

In what ways do you think local communities can help tourism in times of risk and uncertainty?

Communities can contribute to reducing harm during a crisis, but they have to feel included in the tourism cycle and not feel used for crisis management purposes. 

Inclusivity entails having a stake in destination management and development. They can be involved in decision-making processes, business ownership and job opportunities at the destinations. 

Another way for the communities to get involved in risk management is by taking ownership and valuing their natural resources. Defending and speaking out when they see their resources overexploited or endangered. 

The community can assist in risk management is by uniting and identifying themselves to a recognized union that can raise their issues and represent them in the decision-making process with other stakeholders. 

COVID 19 has shown that innovation can cushion a destination from a crisis. Local communities can devise ways of offering their products and experiences in different forms in order to withstand and survive the post-disaster season. 

On the other hand, the capacity of the local community to respond will depend on the severity as well as the frequency with which the risk occurs. 

learning, research and skills development for all stakeholders, not just for local communities, is central to managing risk, predicting risk and adapting to risk

We do have a gap in terms of the capacity building especially our local communities to respond swiftly and accurately to risks. unfortunately, we are all looking at each other to take up this task.

What are some of the biggest risks that can happen in tourism destinations?  

Risks related to tourism include Terrorism, Natural disaster, health, political instability, crime, religious dogma, (Lepp &Gibson, 2003)

GreenWashing

One of the biggest risks to tourism is the refusal by tourism to shift towards sustainable forms of tourism – sustainable tourism. Too much greenwashing. Less action

Greenwashing should be declared a tourism disaster. It is misleading and UNETHICAL to the core. The sector should declare war on greenwashing post-COVID 19. Agreed, it is still unfathomable that people still think of it as a trend, rather than the new normal

Climate Change 

Climate change is another risk to the tourism industry.  As temperatures rise destinations are at huge risk of losing the quality of destination experience.

The Tourism sector should unite and declare a Climate Emergency. Indeed, tourism companies have already started. This is a link to all the firms that have declared a climate Emergency

The Mara is one such example of a site affected by climate change. The Kenya Wildlife Service and the Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife have thought of how to mitigate the issue but the complexities of the Mara ecosystems definitely require a multidisciplinary team beyond KWS and The Ministry of Tourism. 

This goes to say there is no “one size fits all” solution.  

Another scenario is the reduced number of flamingos in Lake Nakuru. 

Communication Disaster 

Communication disaster exists. Especially during the Coronavirus pandemic. currently, the spread of false information is a big obstacle to crisis management 

Overtourism 

Community resistance of tourism like the case of overtourism is a risk that is often underestimated. Overtourism is a risk to destinations and there are many scenarios all over the world

This is a classic example of a risk that was initially ‘insignificant’ but has quickly become ‘catastrophic’ for a destination. Come to think about overtourism, it has never been a problem. All we need to do is market all of Kenya’s tourism circuits. 

Such as; Northern Kenya, well known for having a Permanent freshwater Desert lake, Virgin beaches, three islands to visit and plenty of fishing activity.

Lake Turkana.Or the Western Kenya Tourism Circuit, rich in Biodiversity & plenty of activities. However, the Kenyan Tourism Blue Print initially anchored on Beach & Wildlife as prime (Coast & Mara)but changes are underway & can be visible. 

Many of us do and will continue to believe that our industry’s worth is determined solely by numbers. 

What opportunities do you think destinations can find in Covid_19 crisis? 

Post Covid_19 it will be clear that risk management strategies should be at the core of tourism policy-making in order to avert any unforeseen risk

Another lesson from Covid_19 is that stability of a destination is as strong as the business models of companies that drive the industry 

The COVID 19 crisis gives destinations a sole chance to be innovative and redesign their products in order to suit the consumers who will re-emerge post the crisis. Destinations can embrace the use of technology to enhance the sustainability of attractions such as museums etc through the reduction of tourist numbers/surface area

Unfortunately, currently tourism success = numbers hence there is a need for a Paradigm shift. 

Focus on domestic and Intra Africa market in Redesigning the tourism sector. Capitalising on these markets will minimize opportunity costs greatly. 

COVID -19 pandemic has enabled Tourism/Hospitality Industry to be keen and strict on matters relating to health. Hotels and tour firms will now focus on improving guests and employees hygiene standards. The setting of the restaurants will be different. Yes, hygiene standards are getting even higher, and this is for the benefit of all.

Risks always come with casualties. Some of these casualties could have been avoided if the destination had prepared for crisis adequately. However, casualties are sometimes slow variables that cannot accommodate change and therefore have to be phased out. We must accept that some will not make it post COVID19 and that’s the saddest part about what we are going through right now.

Risk management strategies include avoiding the risk, reducing harm, transferring the risk, retaining the risk.

The risk management strategies should be practical and identify the specific areas of operation. They should not just be created for formalities. 

Risk management should be able to address situations and safety of the visitors and that of the employees. Along with that, effective and secure communication systems should be determined. 

Conclusion

Risk management narrows down to practising sustainable tourism. The industry should rethink its practices in order to get a long-lasting solution to disasters. 

An important note to take from this discussion is to include all involved parties in setting up a risk management plan in order to cushion the industry from crisis. 

Post COVID-19 Leap Forward webinar Monday, April 27, 2020.

The Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife invites all the Tourism and Hospitality players in Kenya to a virtual webinar on Monday, 27th April 2020 at 03:00:00 PM EAT.

The topic of discussion is “Post COVID-19 Leap Forward” 

The Coronavirus disease crisis has posed a huge challenge to the Tourism and Hospitality sector. It has created fear and uncertainties in the sector. 

The Aviation industry, an important pillar of the tourism sector, has not been left behind. Consequently, travel restrictions and flight cancellations have significantly diminished the supply of travel services (both domestic and international) while demand continues to decline. 

The UNWTO estimates that in 2020 global international tourist arrivals could decline between 20-30%, down from an estimated growth of 3% to 4% forecast in early January 2020. 

The CS, Tourism and wildlife said “The tourism sector is currently one of the hardest-hit by the outbreak of the #COVID19 pandemic. On Monday, Apr 27, 3:00 PM EAT – We will host our first Webinar, to discuss the leap forward in the industry. “

Hon. Najib Balala tweet on Post COVID-19 Leap Forward

In regards to the challenges that the Tourism and Hospitality sector is facing right now the ministry has decided to hold this webinar. It will provide guidance to the small and medium-sized Entreprises and other investors on how they can survive during and post COVID-19 crisis. 

To register for the webinar, you can click on this site Post COVID-19 Leap Forward webinar 

The presenters are professional with years of experience and knowledge of the sector. The panellist include-:

1. Hon Najib Balala

Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife

  1. Joanne Mwangi – Yelbert

Group CEO, PMS Group Africa, Global Communication Expert

  1. Karim Wissanji

Founder & CEO, Elewana Group

  1. Alexandra Blanchard

Sales Manager, TripAdvisor

  1. Damian Cook

Founder and CEO, E-Tourism Frontiers

  1. Ninan Chacko, CTC

Senior Advisor, McKinsey & Company

  1. Hugo Espírito Santo

Partner, McKinsey & Company

This will be an interesting, interactive and informative webinar. As a tourism and Hospitality professional, you cannot afford to miss it.

African tourism approach to COVID-19 pandemic

Tourism has been at the heart of economic growth in many countries worldwide. It is regarded as a super industry accounting to 4-10% of total exports. 

COVID-19 and the crisis of 2020 are not about tourism and travel or Africa, it is about humanity.we have never faced a global crisis before that is invisible. The terrorism you can see, economic downturns you can see and natural disasters you can see. We are dealing with a crisis of fear. There is psychological fear, financial fear, fear for jobs businesses and economies.

Anita Mendiratta

Although the crisis has negatively affected the tourism sector, it has also created opportunities to improve our businesses. 

For Intra Africa tourism operations to thrive measures have to be enacted. Let’s look at what can be done to leverage this situation. 

Strengthen SME sector

COVID-19 has exposed tourism as an economic engine that drives many countries of the world. A driving force in achieving global SDG goals. 

However, many SME’S and local businesses in the tourism industry do not get the lions share of the proceedings. 

Unfortunately post COVID-19, when data is collected, many SME’S will be faceless and most of them will go out of business. 

Tourism in Africa is a huge SME. For an industry that drives economies, we cannot explain why this industry cannot pay its employees three months down into a crisis. 

Africa has to rethink how Tourism is currently done. SME’S have to be included in the big picture for this trade to thrive. 

Relief allocation programs should factor in the local businesses, the vulnerable groups and Small Medium Entreprises in the industry. Relief programs look at social issues around tourism and go beyond economic matters. 

Africa tourism sector should look into how the SME sector gets access to stimulus packages and how financial institutions respond to their needs. 

This will go a long way in supporting the SME sector. 

Focus on the local tourism market.

Africa’s source markets have greatly suffered from Coronavirus pandemic. 

Our major source markets are the epicentres of the crisis hence we need to re-adjust our strategies. 

The source markets include the US, UK, Spain, Italy and China. 

This is a huge blow to the tourism sector because most products and campaigns are targeted to this market sector. 

A paradigm shift has been created from international travel to domestic and regional travel 

Africa has been forced to consider its domestic and regional market. 

Local tourism is expected to develop first, followed by regional and finally international tourism. 

There will be robust growth in the internal tourism sector because. 

  • People will fear travelling to further destinations. After recovery from the Coronavirus crisis, travellers will not be confident in mingling with strangers. The fear of who might still be infected or of a possible second phase of the outbreak. 
  • Increase in the nationalism among citizens. People will want to promote and grow their local businesses. 
  • Governments will want to grow their tourism sectors since they are the driving engines to their economies hence they will strive to promote local tourism firms. 

Africa should ensure that Africa is working with Africa to stimulate tourism growth when our skies open up and when travel restrictions are lifted. 

Pan-African visa facilitation, open skies agreement and traffic rights issues are measures that should be implemented in order to strengthen Intra African trade. 

Re-engineer tourism

For tourism to thrive in Africa post-COVID-19 sustainability has to be the core of our operations. 

Tourism stakeholders have to rethink how they do their business and investments. 

They should thrive to stimulate the economy by creativity adjustments and sustainable jobs creation. 

Sustainability will eventually either by disaster or design take over-tourism and all sectors –

Judy Kepher Gona 

It was a matter of time either by disaster or design that Sustainability becomes the solution that the world is looking for. 

We should ask ourselves does Africa need economic growth or sustainable economic growth? Does Africa need more jobs or more sustainable jobs? 

We are used to putting all eggs in one basket when reporting on tourism performance not knowing whether some of the eggs are bad and they might destroy the good ones. 

Sustainability gives us the chance to press the restart button. 

COVID-19 has shown us that Tourism has limits. It has taken tourism back to the basics. 

According to scholars, tourism is a risky business and it should primarily promote well being of the social economy and the environment. 

An opportunity to rethink our operations, restart and re-engineer tourism has presented itself. Let’s not lose this chance to make tourism a sustainable venture. 

Marketing and promotional campaigns 

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought controversies and uncertainties. 

We don’t know when the crisis will end nor the future of our industry. 

There are many promotional campaigns running on the industry. 

One of the common ones is the “Travel Tomorrow” campaign rolled out by UNWTO 

This campaign urges travellers to stay home now so that they can travel tomorrow. This is to emphasize that health safety is of a priority now. Keeping our clients and partners safe so that we can meet again and travel later 

The second campaign which is done by our South African counterparts is the lockdown campaign. This campaign talks about the outbreak being experienced globally. Bringing up the importance of coming together as a global community to overcome this crisis. 

Post COVID-19 marketers will have a big role in creating new stories to build consumer confidence. This is mainly because it will not be business as usual. 

The consumer habits will change so the marketing strategies will have to change too. 

Rethink data collection

Every data narrates its own stories

However, African tourism data is not reliable since it does not reflect the reality on the ground. 

This is a stumbling block in propelling the recovery or restart process. 

The databases on tourism trade in Africa talk of Tourism numbers, profits, number of jobs created and arrivals. 

This does not indicate the actual number of sustainable jobs created, the level of satisfaction by tourists and the data about Small and medium-sized Entreprises 

The industry must decide on measurements of both the products and experiences. 

New indexes or matrix must be discussed in order to have correct and reliable data on tourism performance in the continent. 

Forming new alliances

It is predicted that many suppliers will run out of business. 

This is because of the economic downturn that is being experienced during this pandemic. 

The new supplier will have to meet the demands of the consumers who will re-emerge. 

Hence there will need to build new relationships in order to satisfy the demands of the business. 

The consumption habits of tourists will change greatly hence increase the demand for new products that will meet their needs. 

Tourism will adopt technology in different sectors in the effort of adopting social distancing. A rise in virtual tours and MICE has been experienced. 

High hygiene standards will be adopted with HACCP being revised in the hospitality sector. 

KWS instruction on wearing a mask when visiting the parks

All these changes will give rise to new suppliers hence new relationships have to be built now. 

Conclusion

For once and for the first time tourism is going to be taken seriously. If you look at a budgetary allocation 

Tourism is always a sick child. It is  allocated less money, less attention and in some countries, it is not given prominence in the decision-making process 

At the policy level, we are going to appreciate tourism as the key component of the whole economy post-COVID-19. 

COVID-19 has presented the African tourism sector opportunities to build new alliances, strengthen Intra African trade and make tourism sustainable. 

COVID-19 and Tourism in Kenya: Kenya Tourism Board joins the Campaign by UNWTO #StayHome #TravelTomorrow

COVID-19 pandemic has hit all economies worldwide.


Different sectors and countries have held deliberations on how to fight this crisis since making a united front is vital in this case.

The global community, including the tourism sector, should work more closely together and show that solidarity can go beyond national borders

Najib Balala
Chair of UNWTO
Executive Council


The United Nations World Tourism Organization(UNWTO) held a convention in Berlin on 19th March 2020. It was held virtually and different members of its Executive Council, key UN agencies and private sector leaders attended. Among the delegates in attendance was Kenya’s Cs Tourism and Wildlife Hon. Najib Balala.

Virtual meeting held by UNWTO and Tourism stakeholders

This meeting was a call for international cooperation for a united response to the pandemic.


They all adopted the tagline “stay home today travel tomorrow” which is now propagated on social media using the tagline #Stayhome #TravelTomorrow.


Tourism should always put people first and in this case by accepting their responsibilities, recognise tourism will lead to recovery and that#Stayhome today, so we can #TravelTomorrow.


This campaign is an effort by UNWTO to prioritize the health of tourists while encouraging them to stay at home during the pandemic so that they can travel tomorrow.


The Kenya Tourism Board adopted this tagline #Stayhome in order to #TravelTomorrow. They have also targeted the domestic tourists by the phrase “Tujilinde leo Tusafiri kesho”.

Kenya Tourism Board joins #TravelTomorrow Campaign
Tujilinde Leo Safiri Kesho by KTB


This campaign by the Kenya Tourism Board also informs the tourism players to be patient, allow tourists to stay home so that they can seek their services when the pandemic is over. It puts the health of tourists and travel and hospitality professionals
on the forefront.


The CEO of Kenya Tourism Board, Dr Betty Radier says that Kenya joins the rest of the world in efforts to flatten the COVID-19 curve.


She said “We join the rest of the destinations in putting people first and taking all precautions to flatten the COVID19 curve key measure washing hands, social distancing and self-quarantine for those who have recently arrived into the country or been in to contact with infected persons. The Kenyan tourism private sector has been in the frontline in securing both the safety of visitors and staff alike‘’


She added “after we have overcome the COVID-19 challenge, we will be happy to welcome the world back to Kenya for travel and leisure. Our tourism offering remains resilient in the face of this adversity and we will work to ensure that visitors to Kenya come back to their preferred travel destinations in Kenya.”

The Ministry of Tourism has been working closely with the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Labour & the Ministry of National Treasury and Planning, together with Key Tourism Industry players – to mitigate against 3 Key impacts; Health deterioration, loss of jobs and Loss in cash flow.
All this is to assist the tourism industry to stay afloat despite the devastating impacts of the pandemic to the economy.

In the effort to encourage people to stay safe during the COVID-19 pandemic #StayHome #TravelTomorrow ✌️

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.

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