Tourism has, for a long time, been Kenya’s second-largest foreign earner after agriculture. Unfortunately, the sector has been facing challenges mainly because of the global Covid-19 pandemic, not to mention the post-election violence and a series of terror attacks that previously rocked the industry. Fortunately, it has shown an impressive performance in the recent past, and there is hope that it will restore its former glory.
Kenya’s tourism industry is dominated by beach holiday eco-tourism, cultural tourism, and sports tourism. Kenya’s parks, reserves, and private conservancies are significant habitats for wildlife that attract local and international tourists.
With the onset of the Covid 19 pandemic, the following negative impacts have hit the tourism sector:
- Kenya’s tourism sector has been affected by the global lockdown, which has minimized tourism travels to the East African country.
- Leisure activities such as visiting the beaches, parks, and reserves were for close to one year stopped to curb the pandemic.
- Kenya lost USD 511 Million in hotel room revenue between 2020 and 2021
- 36,800 airline jobs in Kenya were put at risk due to the pandemic.
- Meetings Incentives, Conventions, and Exhibitions (MICE) regarding tourism in Kenya were affected after the Government of Kenya canceled gatherings. This led to the loss of close to Ksh 163.56 billion.
- There is an expected change in consumer and social behavior due to the pandemic, thus further affecting the industry.
The government of Kenya has laid down recovery strategies for the Tourism sector. These include immediate, medium-term, and long-term strategies.
Intermediate Recovery Strategies
- The government aims to prepare and implement travel and tourism protocols on aviation, hospitality tour operators, travel agents, and airports.
- The government will embark on training the industry on new international requirements and protocols for reskilling. These protocols include hygiene, safety and security, maintenance of resilient zones, and tourists’ behavior etc.
- The government will facilitate the collection and packaging of tourism products such as audio, videos, images, and graphics.
- After collecting tourism data, the government will then interpret these and share them with the public through the Government Tourism website, social media, emails, billboards, among other channels.
- The government plans to digitize travel and tourism by mapping tourism resources. The government will also provide information and geospatial packaging or tourism resources in Kenya.
- Kenya is also set on intensifying research activities, including market preferences, tourism price revisions, and resilience creation, among other strategies.
Medium-Term Recovery Strategies
The medium-term recovery strategies of the tourism sector will include the following:
- Staggering re-opening of the tourism sector, including community tourism phase, Domestic tourism phase, and Regional and International tourism phase.
- Partnerships and financial strategies
- Product improvement and diversification strategies: this strategy will aim to improve popular products in the sector, explore and expand the industry’s untapped opportunities, and explore new segments in the tourism sector.
- The medium-term recovery strategy will also digitize the marketing of the travel and tourism industry.
- The government will also engage communities to ensure targeted actions and enhanced return on investment.
Long-Term Recovery Strategies
The Ministry of Tourism in Kenya has put the following long-term recovery strategies for the tourism industry.
- Through the Ministry of Tourism, the government will create resilience in the industry through the following measures:
- A coordinated response to crises arising,
- Enactment of risk and emergency training packages,
- Improved workers’ confidence by training on restoring business strategies
- Developing employee motivational strategy guide that employers in the sector will use.
- Infrastructure improvement
- Sustain market policies through the following measures:
- Creating and implementation of IDMS (Integrated Destination Management System) for the sector. This application provides information on events, tourism activities, and any other aspect of tourism in a region.
- The Ministry also plans to carry out aggressive domestic, regional and international marketing for products in the tourism sector.
- Kenya will also encourage international tourists to visit by giving incentives such as simplifying visa rules and revising hotel rates.
- The government will forge partnerships among stakeholders in all sectors. This will help partners to diversify tourism products and create internal and external motivational synergies.
- Target the growing middle class. A growing middle class signifies a strong economy driven by a growing middle-class population.
- Working with the Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife, the government will need to give more focus on domestic tourism. They can achieve this through repackaging tourism products with local market interests to encourage more local tourism. They will also promote a set of experiences that most Kenyans can relate to by targeting the different segments in the industry.