Inside Politics

Prioritise domestic market, tourism sector players told

Wednesday, September 29th, 2021 00:00 |
Coast hotels employees participate in a beach clean-up exercise to  mark World Tourism Day (INSET)Tourism PS Safina Kwekwe. Photo/PD/NDEGWA GATHUNGU

Tourism stakeholders have been asked to focus on domestic visitors so as to revive the industry that has been affected by international travel restrictions put in place to curb the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Safina Kwekwe, the Principal Secretary in the State Department of Tourism said stakeholders must target products that resonate with the domestic tourists.

“Tourism players must start offering innovative domestic tourism packages to entice Kenyans to travel and explore their country in a bid to stay afloat during the pandemic period,” she said.

Kwekwe observed that two years since the disease was declared a global pandemic the country’s tourism industry has managed to remain afloat by harnessing the power of domestic travel.

The PS said tourism is one of the worst-hit industries globally by the Covid-19 pandemic and that Kenya hopes for quick recovery of the industry.

Foreign travellers

“The economic crisis caused by the pandemic has exposed our country’s dependence on foreign travellers” she said, adding that domestic tourism has been overlooked for a long time.

Kwekwe was speaking in Diani, Kwale County during celebrations to mark this year’s World Tourism Day under the theme “Tourism for inclusive growth”.

She said there is need to make the Kenyans know that they can be tourists in their hotels and welcomed for engage in Safaris and visit other tourism attraction sites.

“This culture of them thinking that tourists only come from outside the country should  be removed from them,” Kwekwe said.

“Ever since the pandemic hit our country most of the tourism businesses have been operating with the domestic tourism so let us shift to this and encourage the people that they can also be tourists in our hotels and other areas by having products that are reasonable to them,” she continued.

The government has been making efforts to fast-tack recovery of the sector with the ministry issuing a comprehensive Covid-19 vaccination policy and procedures for both guests and staff at all levels of establishments’ operations in August this year. 

Hospitality workers have been added to the frontline in the fight against the pandemic.

For instance, tourism, travel and hospitality establishments are to ensure tourists and guests wear appropriate, quality personal protective equipment except when in their room, dining or in private with physical distancing in a hotel garden or at the beach.

Institutions are also to ensure facilities and businesses provide a continuous supply of masks and gloves where necessary, which are to be available for sale to guests at the discretion of individual enterprises.

The reviewed protocols launched by Cabibet Secretary Najib Balala state that guests and visitors are to be registered and records kept and updated daily, The records should include mobile contacts and physical addresses to ease contact tracing.

Restaurants and eateries serving tourists have been directed to operate in strict adherence to protocols provided by the Ministry of Health, including staff having valid digital QR-code signifying vaccination, guests not being allowed to serve themselves from buffets and the inclusion of electronic menus on sanitised tablets, fixed board, or printed single-use disposable menus.

Balala told a news conference in Nairobi the ministry had also requested  50,000 vaccines from Ministry of Health for tourism and hospitality workers and disclosed plans to lobby County and Tourism CECs, to vaccinate tourism stakeholders in the counties, adding that vaccination is going to be key for the recovery of tourism in the country.

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