30% DROP IN PASSENGERS

Sh500m for post-coronavirus tourism recovery

Meanwhile, Kenya’s tourism is already feeling the coronavirus heat as many travellers have cancelled flights.

In Summary

•  The cancellation of international flights into the tourist town of Malindi has hurt the local economy.

• The Kenya Association of Travel Agents has also called for the government to consider steps to protect travel agent’s business that will suffer financial distress.

Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala.
TOURISM RECOVERY: Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala.
Image: FILE

The government has pledged to release Sh500 million to rebuild the tourism industry after the coronavirus pandemic ends.

Tourism CS Najib Balala said on Friday part of the money will be used to restore destination confidence to ensure Kenya remains as a preferred travel destination globally.

The rest of the money will be used for the post coronavirus recovery strategy in all our key markets, he said.

Kenya’s tourism is already feeling the coronavirus heat as many travellers have cancelled flights to the country.

The cancellation of international flights into the vast tourist town of Malindi has hurt the local economy.

Kenya announced on Friday that a Kenyan woman, 27, who travelled to Nairobi from the USA via London had tested positive of COVID-19. She is the first case in Kenya.

Balala was speaking during a meeting between the Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife and industry stakeholders to discuss the impact of  COVID-19 and how to mitigate it.

The Kenya Association of Travel Agents has also called for the government to consider steps to protect travel agent’s business that will suffer.

KATA’s chairman  Mohammed Wanyoike led a delegation of board members and urged the government to consider extraordinary support for travel agents.

"These measures include payment of all pending bills owed to travel agents, interest-free grants, a relief to business PAYE and deadline extensions on bank loan premiums," Wanyoike said.

Travel agents expressed concern over major loss of revenue and jobs if the virus continues spreading.

Agnes Mucuha, KATA Chief Executive Officer, said, “Passenger number bookings have been declining significantly following the suspension of flights and general fear by travellers."

She added,"This has also been compounded by the travel restrictions issued by the government and corporate companies in Kenya. March 2020 has witnessed a decline by 30 per cent over last year in passenger numbers”.

Balala has assured travel agents that he will work with Treasury to fast-track payment of all pending bills owed to agents for 2019.

(Edited by V. Graham)