Coronavirus: Kenya sets aside Sh500m to save tourism

Tourism Secretary Najib Balala. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

What you need to know:

  • Move comes as sector takes a beating as tourists from source markets restrict travel.

Kenya has set aside Sh500 million to help the tourism sector recover from the effects of the coronavirus outbreak which is now threatening global economies.

Cabinet Secretary for Tourism and Wildlife Najib Balala said part of the funds will be used to restore destination confidence to ensure that Kenya remains a preferred travel destination globally.

The rest will be used for the post-coronavirus recovery strategy in all Kenya's key source markets.

“We have set aside Sh500 million for the sector as part of our post-coronavirus (Covid-19) recovery plan,” Mr Balala said while addressing tourism industry stakeholders at a meeting held in Nairobi which brought together hoteliers, tour operators, travel agents and airline representatives.

The meeting had been convened by the Ministry of Tourism to discuss the preparedness of the government in relation to the sector following the global Covid-19 crisis.

“We are prepared and committed to ensure that Covid-19 does not get into the country, the reason we have formed a task force to coordinate Kenya’s preparedness, prevention and response to the disease,” he said.

Apart from the isolation centre at Mbagathi Hospital, every county will have an isolation ward for Covid-19.

Currently, the Ministry of Health is overseeing the training of 5,000 doctors and nurses to ensure the country is well prepared in case the pandemic strikes.

Kenya has also been selected as the hub for CDC Africa, which ensures that the country is at the centre of eliminating the disease.

During the meeting, the stakeholders -- through Kenya Tourism Federation (KTF) Chairman Mohamed Hersi -- said they were ready to work collaboratively with the government to ensure that the sector doesn’t suffer collapse over the viral disease.

They also urged the public to desist from fear mongering and creating the perception that conditions in the country are bad.

Despite the fact that Kenya has not reported any coronavirus case, the tourism industry has been hit hard due to the global nature of the crisis, especially with most of the key source markets in Europe and Asia reducing travel.