Kenya tourism stakeholders partner to improve business

Tuesday February 01 2022

Elephants walk in front of a tour van at the Masai Mara National Reserve. Key stakeholders in the Kenyan tourism and travel sectors have agreed to collaborate in efforts to revive business in the industries, which are still struggling to recover from the adverse effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. PHOTO | FILE


Key stakeholders in the Kenyan tourism and travel sectors have agreed to collaborate in efforts to revive business in the industries, which are still struggling to recover from the adverse effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

In a consultative forum convened Monday morning by the African Travel and Tourism Association (ATTA), the stakeholders including the Kenya Tourism Board (KTB), Kenya Airways (KQ), Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA), and the Kenya Tourism Federation (KTF) pledged to enhance cooperation between the government and private players in the sectors, to promote tourism and travel in the country and beyond.

The tourism and travel sectors slumped in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, with over 81 percent of firms in the industries laying off most of their employees and 31 percent implementing more than 70 percent pay cut, the ministry of tourism and wildlife reported in June 2020.

Kenya recorded a 72 percent drop in tourism arrivals in 2020, compared to 2019, with international receipts falling from $1.9 billion to $531 million, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC).

“We cannot emphasise the role of synergies and partnerships enough as we work towards re-starting of tourism. We must continue to take advantage of the new opportunities in
travel, and also look out for the emerging trends,” said Dr Betty Radier, KTB CEO.

In a bid to rejuvenate the sector, KTB had partnered with Kenya Airways in November 2021 to promote local and international touring of Kenya by branding KQ planes with popular tourist destinations in the country. Consequently, tourist arrivals rose by 34 percent in 2021, but is yet to reach the numbers recorded in 2019.


This new partnership, however, comes at a time when local and regional tourism is reported to have been improving following campaigns by the government to focus more on domestic and regional visitors after international arrivals flopped.

As part of the government’s strategy to help the travel and tourism sectors recover from hitch, the ministry of tourism listed promotion of domestic and regional tourism, alongside product development and diversification, and digitising tourism in the country in June 2020.

The partnership between KTB and KQ’s low-cost carrier subsidiary, Jambo Jet was instrumental in improving domestic and regional tourism, the stakeholders said in a statement.

ATTA, the forum’s convener, which is an intermediary between buyers and providers of travel and tourism services across Africa, has membership across 21 African countries including Uganda, Tanzania, and Rwanda, with Kenya contributing 90 members.

Its operations were almost totally paralysed due to the pandemic, with several countries closing their borders and imposing restrictions on international travel.

The organisation has resumed operations after 16 countries in Africa, including Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, and Rwanda, received the global safety stamp by the World Travel and Tourism Council, in recognition of safe travels protocols.

“Tourism and Aviation are sectors that are symbiotic and need each other to fully thrive. We have met to ensure that we come up with solutions and a standard way of operating in terms of the safety protocols and also come up with ideas that can propel travel to Kenya,” said Nigel Vere Nicoll, ATTA president.

ATTA has not been involved in any similar interventions in Uganda, Tanzania, or Rwanda, in which it also has massive membership, although their travel and tourism sectors were heavily hit by the pandemic as well.

Uganda’s travel and tourism sector is still struggling to recover from the pandemic downhill, which saw tourism arrivals fall to about 473,000 in 2020 from 1.5 million, the all-time highest, in 2019, according to the Uganda Bureau of Statistics.

Apart from the government’s strategy which is almost similar to Kenya’s, the only intervention was by the Uganda Tourism Association, which partnered with the Mastercard Foundation and the Private Sector Foundation of Uganda to fund entities in the industry to recover from the pandemic’s impact.

Tanzania also registered a small rise in tourism arrivals to 712,900 in 2021, after falling to 620,900 in 2020, from 1.5 million in 2019, based on Tanzania National Bureau of Statistics’ records.

The most significant intervention to help the sector recover so far is the $39 million granted to the ministry of natural resources and tourism in October 2021, which was from the $565 million IMF emergency financial assistance loan to Tanzania last year.

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