•The President also called for the uptake of local products and content to support the manufacturing sector and homegrown production.
• CS Balala says Kenya is banking on domestic and regional tourism for the sector's immediate recovery as international markets will take a while to improve.
Kenyans must commit to take their holidays locally for the next one year, President Uhuru Kenyatta has said, as the country ponders post Covid-19 comeback.
This, the President said, will help in rescuing the tourism sector, now hard hit by the cessation of international travel due to coronavirus pandemic.
The pandemic has also reduced local movement.
The President at the same time called for the uptake of local products and content to support the manufacturing sector and homegrown production.
More than 400 high-end tourism facilities in Mombasa, Diani, Kilifi, Malindi, and Lamu have been closed since last month, rendering more than 10,000 employees jobless.
Similar facilities in Rift Valley, Central and Western regions are also closed, directly affecting more than 50,000 people in the tourism and hospitality industry.
Interlinked players like suppliers, farmers whose produce is consumed in hotels, travel industry, clubs and eateries are also suffering.
“We closed the resort from March 31, till tentatively June 15,” The Baobab Diani general manager Sylvester Mbandi rold the Star.
Last year, domestic tourism accounted for 4.9 million bed-nights. It was a year for tourism with a record 2.048 million international arrivals.
Tourism earnings grew by 3.9 per cent from Sh157.4 billion in 2018 to Sh163.6 billion, the 2020 Economic Survey shows.
Hotel bed night occupancy increased from 8.6 million in 2018 to 9.2 million.
The sector’s performance was further boosted by conference tourism that expanded by 14.0 per cent in 2019.
“We must visit our hotels and parks, and every corner of our country,” President Kenyatta urged Kenyans in his Labour Day address on Friday.
“Let us spend our money amongst our own people so that they can keep their jobs and feed their families."
On Tuesday, Tourism CS Najib Balala said domestic tourism was the key to cushion the sector before international visitors start arriving in large numbers.
“The international markets will take a while to recover and we should therefore bank on the domestic and regional tourism as the key to the sector's immediate recovery,” Balala said.
He added: "We need to take stock of Kenyan products, see what is going to work during recovery and capitalise on them.”
Meanwhile, the Kenya Association of Hotel Keepers and Caterers has called on industry players and the public to cooperate in curbing the spread of the coronavirus.
“The industry (tourism) has shut down just like other sectors save for a few manufacturers and farmers. Let us contain the virus first and think business later,”chief executive Mike Macharia told the Star.
President Kenyatta called on Kenyans to buy locally produced goods to support the manufacturing sector.
“To save jobs in our manufacturing sector, we must shed some of our long held prejudices against Kenyan-made products. Let us buy what we make, whether it is cooking oil, soap, sufurias, spoons, bicycles, furniture or locally assembled cars,” he said.
He added: “If we buy Kenya, we will build Kenya. And Kenya is each and every one of us. This must form the baseline of our survival strategy."
The country has for decades been a net importer of raw material and finished goods, mainly from China.
A Kenya Association of Manufacturers survey shows about 82 per cent of its members trade with China.
Global supply chain disruption caused by the coronavirus has, however, sent the captains of industry to the drawing board, as they navigate how home-based industries can meet and satisfy the local demand.
Textile, ICT, fast moving consumer goods and leather sectors are among those with huge opportunities for local manufacturers.
“People should be able to identify new business opportunities. There is no reason why we should not take advantage of that,” Industrialisation, Trade, and Enterprise Development CS Betty Maina told the Star recently.
- mwaniki fm