NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 29 – Tourism and Wildlife Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala has set up a National Tourism Crisis Steering Committee to come up with mitigation measures for any emergencies that will dim the industry’s performance in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
The move comes at a time when tourism stakeholders are already predicting losses worth tens of millions on the widespread travel restrictions globally in a bid to mitigate the spread of coronavirus.
According to a gazette notice dated March 27, the twenty-member Committee to be chaired by Tourism Chief Administrative Secretary Joseph Boinnet will also include Inspector General Police Hillary Mutyambai, Attorney General Paul Kariuki and Kenya Tourism Board Chief Executive Officer Betty Radier.
The team to spearhead crisis mitigation in the tourism sector for a three-year renewable term will further be expected to oversee operations of the National Tourism Crisis Operational Centre set up at the Kenyatta University Nairobi.
Already, the outbreak of coronavirus has caused a huge impact in the tourism sector after countries moved to restrict movement to curb the disease that has so far claimed more than 31,000 lives globally.
Kenya’s air travel sector players had recorded a 6 per cent decline in travel bookings owing travel restrictions occasioned by coronavirus.
Further, tourism stakeholders are predicting losses worth tens of millions should coronavirus continue spreading across the world.
The pandemic has seen some hotels close temporarily sending staffers home while others have nothing but empty beds.
The government announced that it was setting aside Sh500 million that will help the tourism sector recover post coronavirus, which is now affecting the global economy.
CS Balala said some of the money will help restore destination confidence while the rest be used to restore Kenya as a key source market.
“We have set aside Sh500 million for the sector as part of our post-coronavirus (Covid-19) recovery plan,” Balala announced early this month.
Tourism remains a key foreign exchange earner for the country; in 2019, earnings from the sector increased by 4 per cent to hit Sh163 billion compared to Sh157.4 billion recorded in 2018.
Most of the tourists who visited the country under the review period were from the United States making 245,437 entries, which had by March 29 recorded 123,781 COVID-19 cases and 2,229 deaths.