Kenya: tourism lobby draws up opening protocols during COVID-19

The tourism sector in Kenya is working on four protocols that will ensure a safe reopening and maximum impact of the $56 million stimulus package injected by the government.

The protocols will involve hotels, tour guide companies, airlines and the standard gauge railway, and are expected to be ready before the end of cessation of movement on Nairobi and Mombasa and curfew in June.

Players in the sector are upbeat after President Uhuru Kenyatta hinted at a likelihood of relaxing containment measures in his address to the country.

Kenya Tourism Federation chairman Mohammed Hersi said the hotel protocols has already been developed, and it directs how guests will be checked in, hotel sitting arrangements, interaction with guests and also how fumigation will be conducted on to keep premises infection-free.

Mr Hersi said the other three protocols are expected to be complete in the next few days to give direction on transfer of guests to and from airport and railway stations and how to interact with them.
“We ask everyone to abide by the protocols. We do not expect things to be normal but we also want to receive healthy visitors, remain disease-free and that they leave the country safe. Some of the measures will reduce the number of visitors handled each time. For instance, in the tour guide protocol, the number of passengers boarding vehicles will be reduced and no passenger will be allowed at the front seat,” said Mr Hersi.

The KTF chairman said different airports and railway stations are also aligning themselves to comply with the new proposed protocols.

Hoteliers at the coast have also taken advantage of the cessation of movement and curfew to renovate their facilities.

The tourism sector was allocated about $56 million to cushion them from losses arising from restricted movements and termination of domestic and international flights.

Some $20 million will be set aside to support renovation of facilities and the restructuring of business operations. This will be in the form of soft loans to be administered by the Tourism Finance Corporation.

About $10 million will be dedicated to 5,500 community scouts under the Kenya Wildlife Service, while 160 community conservancies will enjoy a support of the same amount to support their activities.

Kenya’s premier hospitality training facility, Utalii College, which has recently been in financial distress will also receive funding to guarantee a steady supply of professionals.

Tourism is Kenya’s second-largest foreign exchange earner. The country is also the third largest travel and tourism economy on the continent after South Africa and Nigeria. Last year, the country received slightly over two million visitors.

SOURCE: The East African

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