Kenya has called upon its tourism stakeholders to adopt lenient cancellation policies to inspire travellers to choose Kenya as their first destination of choice, once the Corona virus has been contained.
Speaking during a discussion of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Kenyan Travel and Hospitality industry before the Coast Tourism stakeholders on March 3, 2020, the Cabinet Secretary for Tourism and Wildlife, Najib Balala, said he was pleased that the hotels on the Coast had already revised their cancellation policy amid the virus pandemic.
”Let us make affordable and attractive travel packages for domestic and regional travellers,” Balala added to his official twitter page.
“They contribute heavily to our success as and industry. Corona Virus shouldn’t hinder us from providing high quality service to them.”
This discussion follows the announcement on Tuesday, March 3, 2020 by Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Health, Mutahi Kagwe, that they had suspended direct flights from northern Italy over the outbreak of COVID-19.
“This part of Italy is currently experiencing corona virus incidents which could affect the safety of Kenyans,” Kabwe had said through a press release.
In his discussion with the Coast Tourism stakeholders, Cabinet Secretary Balala added that almost all African related Corona Virus infections recorded had been from travellers from North Italy.
“Italy is one of our big source markets of the Kenyan coast and it was a difficult decision for the government to halt flights from North Italy,” he said.
Other infections have been recorded in other African countries with Senegal’s recent cases being three French nationals and a British citizen while Nigeria’s index case was identified as an Italian business traveler.
Balala urged Kenyans to desist from stigmatizing foreign nationals currently visiting or living in Kenya, whether Asian or Caucasian, adding that the government, through the Ministry of Health had put in place screening systems for the virus at all entry points.
“The government, through the Ministry of Health, is actively sharing online, ways to minimize the risk of contracting the Corona Virus. Let us adopt this form of proper hygiene in our hotels, lodges, airlines, tour vans and restaurants.”
According to the Kenya Hotel Keepers and Caterers Association, hoteliers in the coast, popular with Italians, have raised fears of losing business following the spread of the Corona Virus and the suspension of flights.