NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 30 – Kenya’s tourism sector has expressed optimism that publicity generated from the confirmed case of swine Flu in the country would not have a negative on the industry, which is currently gearing for the high season between July and October.
Chairman of the Kenya Tourist Board (KTB) Jake Grieves-Cook said on Tuesday that Swine Flu is a global phenomenon that should not act as a major setback for the industry.
“It’s always been a question of not whether the disease will come to Kenya but when will it come to Kenya,” Mr Grieves-Cook said
Speaking after a meeting of the National Tourism Crisis Management Team, of which he is a member, Mr Grieves-Cook expressed confidence that the government and medical authorities in the country were in control of the situation.
“Another thing we need to recognise is that Swine Flu is actually a very mild form of flu in fact it’s less dangerous than the normal influenza.”
He stated that advance bookings for the high season were looking much better than they were last year.
“In the first part of the year we were recording 25 percent down in bookings compared to 2007 but now most hotels are reporting better numbers for this second half of the year,” said the KTB Chairman.
The tourism sector veteran however noted that shortage of aircraft operating to Kenya is posing a huge challenge for the industry.
Mr Grieves-Cook observed that there has been a huge shift in booking styles with most tourists preferring to make their bookings last minute.
Meanwhile, Tourism Assistant Minister Cecily Mbarire is calling on players in the hotel industry to be more alert on the swine flu issue while reassuring that there was no need for panic.
“We are also consoled by the fact that we haven’t quite received some levels of the disease that other countries have had and the fact that the disease is treatable,” he said adding: “We are calling on all medical personnel within the hotel industry to be on high alert and to report any cases that they may suspect to be swine flu related so that the necessary action is taken.