Travel and Tourism Associations come together to discuss the impact of COVID-19 and mitigating measures to survive the crisis

The Kenya Association of Travel Agents (KATA) and various other associations under the umbrella body Kenya Tourism Federation (KTF) came together through a webinar to discuss measures of business survival during and after the COVID-19 crisis.

The associations explored the continuous devastating impact on the industry in finance, human resource and business continuity and ways of emerging from the crisis stronger.

KTF Chairman Mr. Mohammed Hersi noted that the longer the disease lasts, the longer it will take to revive the industry and the economy at large.

Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) for Tourism and Wildlife Mr. Joseph Boinett, who was also in attendance, urged the travel and tourism industry players to pull together as the world seeks ways of getting rid of the highly contagious virus. “The post COVID-19 world will be new and different,” he pointed out.

KATA Chief Executive Officer Ms. Agnes Mucuha pointed out that the travel trade is hedged on transport and for it to thrive, international borders need to open up.

This, she further said, is the reason why the aviation and travel industry has a bleak future as no revenue is streaming in.

Since the first case was reported in March, several measures have been put in place by the government to contain the spread of the highly contagious disease.

Among them is social distancing, restricted movements amongst counties, a dusk to dawn curfew and no flights in and out of the country, measures that have been extended for another 21 days.

These measures though very necessary in preventing the rapid spread of the virus have affected businesses through loss of sales and revenue. This has led to some companies having to reduce the number of staff and even closing down.

“Some airlines like South African Airlines and Air Australia are going through insolvency. If airlines do not receive support from their governments, they will go bankrupt,” Ms. Mucuha said.

She called upon government and corporates to pay up pending funds owed to travel agents to allow their businesses to survive the crisis.

“There are some companies that will not survive the Coronavirus pandemic. The government needs to support these businesses. Instead of closing shop, these businesses can partner for survival and later make a comeback post COVID-19, “she advised.

Travel agents, she continued, may have to rethink their business strategy and cease extending credit in future for business sustainability.

On human resource matters, the Kenya Association of Hotel Keepers and Caterers (KAHC) CEO Mr Mike Macharia talked about the options businesses have with their staff which are within the law. These include paid and unpaid leaves, and pay reductions, all of which, he emphasised, have to be agreed on by the employer and employee.