The travel industry has taken a heavy beating from the coronavirus epidemic, with revenues expected to drop by at least 60 per cent so far this year.
This is according to Kenya Association of Travel Agents Chief Executive Agnes Mucuha, who said that Covid-19 had brought the travel and tourism sector to a standstill with the restrictions on movement to contain the spread of the virus.
“Covid-19 has hit the industry hard with loss of jobs and revenue for travel agents. Many have had to close their businesses,” she said.
The warning comes a week after the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) announced that up to 50 million jobs were at risk globally owing to the pandemic.
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The WTTC figures show that in 2018, travel and tourism in Kenya grew by 5.6 per cent to contribute Sh790 billion to the economy. It also created 1.1 million jobs.
Early this year the sector recorded an improvement in the number of arrivals of 1,444,670 between July 2019 and February 2020, compared to 1,423,548 over the same period last year. The gains will, however, be lost as the sector goes through a slump.
“This industry supports millions of jobs, which risk being lost. The figure could rise depending on how long the pandemic lasts,” said Ms Mucuha.
Two weeks after Kenya recorded its first coronavirus case, the government suspended all international passenger flights in and out of the country to tame the spread of the virus. Only cargo flights were exempted.
Cash-strapped national carrier Kenya Airways thereafter had to barely survive on domestic flights, but that only lasted a few days before Nairobi and Mombasa were locked down.
The aviation industry’s woes have also hit hoteliers hard, as they depend mostly on foreign visitors