Tourism amidst the uncertainty of Covid-19 pandemic

Wednesday, May 6th, 2020 18:58 |
Hasnain Noorani.


The world is groaning under the impact of the rapid spread of Covid-19, which has struck more than 160 countries and killed thousands of people. 

The rate of spread across a globalised financial, political and social architecture sets this particular pandemic apart from any other in modern times. It has impacted travel and tourism like no other event before.

Less affected countries in Africa, Europe, Asia and elsewhere have taken draconian measures to tame the pandemic.

In two months, Covid-19 has reshaped our ideas on being socially connected, economically entangled and existentially unprepared for radical change.

Considering the rate of infections and the related panic, small and medium-sized enterprises  —  about 80 per cent of tourism sector — have been badly hit.

This has affected millions of livelihoods in Kenya and worldwide, including vulnerable communities who rely on tourism.

While Covid-19 is impacting all industries, tourism and hospitality sectors have suffered most given increasing travel restrictions, event cancellations and aversion to travel anywhere. 

The benefits Kenya’s hotel industry brings are under threat. Yet, due to its cross-cutting economic nature and deep social footprint, tourism is uniquely positioned to help societies and communities affected return to growth and stability. 

Whilst fire-fighting through the immediate impact, it’s also time to think to the future and recovery planning.

Over decades, the sector has proven its resilience and  ability to bounce back and to lead the wider economic and social recovery. This depends on adequate political support.

The impact of coronavirus on the Coastal region is major and serious.  It is causing  anxiety and concern for the business community in general. 

Mombasa as a tourist destination, has been much harder hit.  As a seasonal destination, the town’s businesses make money to survive the year mainly the through the tourism high season. 

Unprecedented times need well-thought solutions. Responses will need to be tailored for each destination.

But it’s clear that getting our story out clearly and as early as possible is crucial.

Encouraging visitors and investors to return to our cities is fundamental to regaining our economic footing, and to do that, we need to inspire trust in the strength of our place and our community.

Though it’s early days yet, we can already see some countries on the fringe of the coronavirus epidemic,  working to share their own stories.

Some business owners in the Arashiyama region in Kyotom Japan, for example, have launched an empty tourism campaign, highlighting the lack of crowds at popular tourist sites.

No one knows as yet the extent of the economic damage of the pandemic. What is certain is that the paralysis of air traffic, the shutdown of tourism activities in almost all markets and destinations will have a resounding negative impact on production and consumption and on global economic growth.

Worse, there is a disruption of supply chains originating from or going through China, the rush to purchase goods in anticipation of more restrictions, and the possible disruption of the labor market in many countries. - The writer is the CEO and Founder of PrideInn group of Hotels.  [email protected] 

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