With the Delta variant spreading increasingly across the African continent, it will be a while longer before we go back to the way life was in the pre-Covid era. Officially, over 200,000 people have been infected in Kenya and hospitals are exceeding their capacity to hold patients. Reports by the WHO show an upward movement in numbers and it is feared that the fourth wave will hit African countries harder than the previous ones. With projections indicating the return to pre-COVID tourist arrivals not before 2022/23, Kenya’s tourism industry needs to keep holding on and reinvent itself.
The new Covid-19 restrictions include;
- Public gatherings and physical meetings are suspended.
- Religious gatherings are still permitted but instructed to reduce the numbers, allowing only a third to meet.
- Restrictions in Western Kenya. As a spike has been observed in the region, there is high alert and gatherings have been put on hold.
- The curfew has been extended and continues to be in place from 10pm-4am.
- Employees are advised to work from home and limit office in-person meetings.
- Operating eateries must comply strictly to health guidelines.
- International travel restrictions are still in effect and vaccination progress is slow.
What does this mean for Kenya’s tourism sector?
Tourism facilities will continue to remain closed and those operating will and should strictly observe the Covid-19 regulations. The pandemic has forced the tourism industry to rethink topics such as sustainability, resilience, disaster preparedness, innovation and technology, and product diversification. The UNCTD proposes that policies are to be put in place concerning vaccinations, government fiscal measures, and future strategic decisions. So far only about 2% of the country’s population has been vaccinated. While the Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife has supported a vaccination effort in late April 2021, many of those who received the first vaccination has not been able to get the second shot due to lack of vaccines. There needs to be further effort to provide full vaccination to tourism stakeholders. Furthermore, the Ministry has allocated funds to deal with tourism industry recovery. However, more funds need to be allocated to support micro and small tourism businesses as well as communities that have been suffering tremendously from COVID-19.
The research report on the impacts of Covid-19 on tourism in Kenya (2020) outlined the impacts of COVID-19, the measures taken, and the recovery pathways. It includes among other plans to diversify tourism products, stimulate domestic and regional tourism, put in place marketing strategies post Covid-19 to restore consumer confidence. Partnerships and collaboration as well as efforts to increase sustainability should also be at the forefront of our efforts.
To reduce the spread of the virus, there needs to be a careful observation of the Covid-19 guidelines by everyone. This information ought to be refreshed and sensitized again to reduce complacency with the regulations. The fight against COVID-19 is not over yet but there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. Stay safe and keep fighting.
Covid-19 and Tourism Update https://unctad.org/system/files/official-document/ditcinf2021d3_en_0.pdf
The research report on the impact of Covid-19 on tourism in Kenya, the measures are taken and the recovery pathways https://www.tourism.go.ke/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/COVID-19-and-Travel-and-Tourism-Final-1.pdf
Covid-19 vaccinations https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/covid-19-vaccines World Tourism Barometer Data https://www.unwto.org/unwto-world-tourism-barometer-data