Tourism Sector Brace for Tough Times
The tourism sector in the country is predicting tough times following the spread of the novel coronavirus in the key markets.
Key players in the multi-billion sector are set to record low profits as Italy, one of the most significant sources for tourists being struck.
Yesterday, the government stated that it would be suspending flights to the Coast from North of Italy which had two chartered planes landing in Mombasa every Wednesday and Thursday.
“Specifically Verona and Milan… This part of Italy is currently experiencing coronavirus incidents, which could affect the safety of Kenyans”. Stated the Government.
Sam Ikwaye, the Coast branch executive officer of the Kenya Association of Hotelkeepers and Caterers (KAHC) yesterday, highlighted the need for the government to protect the country’s entry points as the disease hits over 50 countries so far.
“All responsible governments are taking drastic measures to cushion their citizens from the entry of the virus,” he said, adding that precautions must be taken at seaports, airports and border points.
However, Maureen Awuor, the chairperson of KAHC’s Watamu and Malindi sub-region, stated that the move by the government to quarantine visitors from Italy, Korea, and Iran would hurt the industry.
“Malindi and Watamu are havens for Italian tourists, and for one to board a flight from Italy only to arrive and be quarantined does not make sense at all,” she said, adding that she does not oppose the directive but asked for deeper consultations with the key players before final decisions.
According to Victor Shitakah, the chairman of the Kenya Coast Tourist Association, towns such as Malindi and Watamu are set to suffer heavily, but still, safe health should come first.
Hotels such as Masai Mara with high reliance on visitors from China may be forced to scale down or close down entirely following the cancellation of direct flights from the country.