Kenya Association of Travel Agents (KATA) urges Kenyans to remain calm as the first case of covid-19 is reported

The Kenya Association of Travel Agents (KATA) has urged Kenyans to remain calm amidst reports of the first diagnosed case of Coronavirus.

KATA CEO Ms. Agnes Mucuha stated that despite a case being reported in the country, Kenyans should continue following directives issued by the Ministry of Health that will help in stopping the spread of the highly contagious disease that has so far claimed over 4,600 lives and infected over 130, 000 others.

“We urge the public to take every precaution as they go about their business to avoid the risk of spreading the disease further. We are confident in the measures that are in place by the government to control the spread of the disease and with adherence” she stated.

The Kenyan Government, she added, is fully prepared and is following the issue closely and has set up mitigation measures to ensure the safety of its citizen.

She further called upon the public to avoid spreading unsubstantiated rumours through social media on COVID-19 to avoid causing a state of panic and misinformation.

“I encourage travellers and the public in general to seek information from credible sources like the Government websites and KATA travel agents,” the CEO urged.

She also redirected travellers to the Coronavirus Updates page on the KATA website on https://katakenya.org/corona-virus-updates/

Earlier in the week, The Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife held a consultative meeting with industry stakeholders, to discuss the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the industry and measures to be taken for purposes of risks mitigation.

KATA’s Chairman Mr. Mohammed Wanyoike led a delegation of KATA board members and the CEO Ms. Mucuha in this meeting and called on the government to consider extraordinary support measures for Kenya’s travel agents.

Following the meeting with cabinet secretary Hon. Najib Balala yesterday, the government has pledged to release USD 5 million towards public relations and marketing activities post COVID-19 pandemic that has rocked the global economy.

KATA called for the Government to consider steps to protect travel agent’s business that may suffer financial distress. These measures include a call for the government to pay all pending bills owed to travel agents, interest free grants, a relief to business PAYE, deadline extensions on bank loan premiums.

 

Hon Balala stated that he would further engage his counterpart in the Labour Ministry Mr. Simon Kiprono to discuss flexibility on labour relations matters in relation to COVID-19.

KATA expressed concern over major loss of revenue and loss of jobs should the virus continue spreading.

Ms Mucuha said, “passenger number bookings have been declining significantly following the suspension of flights, and general fear by travellers. This has also been compounded by the travel restrictions issued by the government and corporate companies in Kenya. March 2020 has witnessed a decline by 30% over last year on passenger numbers”.

The CS further assured travel agents that he will work with Treasury to fast track all pending bills owed to Travel Agents for the period 2019 in order to ease the cashflow constraints during this unprecedented time.

KATA remains proactive in providing up to date fact-based information to members and providing a clear perspective so they can make informed decisions.”

Coronavirus deaths have risen to over 4, 600 cases while the infected people are 134, 804.