Relevant research vital in the revival of the tourism sector- Tourism CS Najib Balala

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Conducting relevant research on the tourism industry will play a key role in the revival of the tourism sector in Kenya, Kenya’s Ministry of tourism Cabinet secretary Najib Balala has said.

The research analysis is set to determine the Kenyan destination preparedness, management and recovery, in times of crises, all guided by policies emanating from and informed by scientific research.

“Resilience and tourism development is a weighty but critical matter whose level of significance cannot be underrated. We, therefore, must endeavor to appreciate the diverse crises that are likely to affect us and create ways in which we can shape tourist thinking and actions through provision of resources and knowledge, without creating fear,” said CS Balala.

The CS acknowledged the fact that, we have the Covid-19 Pandemic with us in addition to other possible future threats that may affect the industry.

Also Read: Kenya Tourism Board positioning itself as honeymoon destination

However, he added that the country should take pride in the fact that gradually, the industry is slowly but surely getting back to normal, through strict adherence to the laid down Covid-19 health and safety protocols.

“So far, we take pride in the revamped domestic tourism sector, whose resilience we do not take for granted. In the last holiday, it was indeed heartwarming to see many Kenyans and residents patronize various tourism destinations,” added the CS.

According to the Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS), IG (rtd) Joseph Boinnet, also stressed on the importance of inter-institutional collaborations in the revival of tourism.

“Inter-institutional collaborations are one of the most important and useful key pillars for managing ‘crisis-resilience’ in tourism destinations, world-wide. Consequently, the Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife wishes to strengthen this relationship of all tourism industry stake-holders, networking across the various institutions and academia to ensure a resilience-based operations of the tourism sector,” CAS said.

Tourism resilience center

The Global Tourism Resilience and Crisis Management Centre (GTRCMC) at Kenyatta University is a tourism resilience center whose main purpose is to conduct relevant research, and providing support, information and direction to the tourism industry and its stakeholders on ways in which we can develop policies and strategies to mitigate against the various crises that affect our industry, from time to time, such as Covid-19.

“GTRCMC proposed 3 major recovery pathways. That is, focusing on domestic tourism, product improvement & diversification, and digitizing tourism. I am happy to say that we are currently implementing all the 3 suggestions and seeing improvements in our tourism numbers,” said Hon. Safina Kwekwe, Principal Secretary, State Department for Tourism.

Elephants are one of the largest existing animals and pristine mammals to Tanzania’s tourism, Source: Pixabay.com

The GTRCMC-Eastern Africa has 60 researchers, who work hand in hand with tourism partners not only to move the industry from the unstable resilience and to return it to where we were, but also to an environment that is constantly innovating and seeking to adapt to the new normal.

The Centre is one of the satellite campuses from the main one that is situated in Jamaica. Other satellite centres are in Nepal, Hong along, Malta, Oman, and Japan.

Data obtained from Statista on tourism arrivals in Kenya shows that as of October 2020, the number of visitors arriving in Kenya through Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) and Moi International Airport (MIA) amounted to 29,635.

The arrivals kept an increasing tendency observed since August, when international flights were resumed. From March 25 till August 1, 2020, the Kenyan government suspended all international flights in an attempt to contain the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, which resulted in a dramatic fall in the tourists flow. Despite the recovery, the number of visitors still highly below the average registered before the coronavirus outbreak, when Kenya received approximately 130 thousand tourists per month. Statista also reveals that since the first COVID-19 case, Kenya has lost more than 750 million U.S. dollars in tourism revenue, roughly half of last year’s total.

There has been an extraordinary growth of tourism recorded in 2020 in the world (1.5 billion), Africa (71.2 million) and Kenya (2.05 million). Tourism is one of the most important industries in Africa and contributed 8.5% (or $194.2bn) of the continent’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2018 (World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) according to the latest report dated 2020.

Also Read: Covid-19 Impact on East Africa tourism sector 2020

Yvonne Kawira is an award winning journalist with an interest in matters, regional trade, tourism, entrepreneurship and aviation. She has been practicing for six years and has a degree in mass communication from St Paul’s University.

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