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Kenya's tourism sector welcomes Uhuru’s rescue package

By Philip Mwakio | May 26th 2020

Tourism industry players have welcomed President Uhuru Kenyatta's drive to jumpstart the economy with Sh53.7 billion stimulus program.
Apart from tourism, the program will focus on other key sectors like manufacturing and infrastructure, education, and health.
The players welcomed the allocation of Sh2 billion to support the renovation of facilities and the restructuring of business operations. Additional funding to support operations of premier hospitality training college, Utalii, as well as engagement of 5,500 community scouts under Kenya Wildlife Service at a cost of Sh1 billion and another Sh1 billion to support approximately 160 community conservancies.
''This is good for the sector. At least we have been remembered at this time when the whole world is in a meltdown owing to the Covid-19 pandemic,'' Dr. Sam Ikwaye, Executive Officer of the Kenya Association of Hotelkeepers and Caterers (Kahc) said.
He added that the stimulus program announced by the President is a critical one because of its linkages to almost all its sectors like agriculture, transport, and manufacturing.
Dr. Ikwaye said that the support to be accorded to Utalii College would offer the institution a new lease of life.
''Professionals in the tourism industry were concerned about its falling standards and near neglect by the government,'' he said.
And the Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) chairman, Mr. Jimi Kariuki said that it was the right thing for the government to do as hotels need support to meet among other things payroll costs so that jobs can be protected.
''We need support at least for the next 7 months. It could be more but let us start here. The amount earmarked may not be enough given that the sector directly employs some 3.5 million Kenyans,'' Kariuki who is also Managing Director of Sarova Hotels (Kenya) said.
Kariuki said that the government's priority now is focused on driving the nation through the virus pandemic and minimising fatalities and bringing the spread of Covid-19 under complete control.
''This will be very important for the recovery of the economy and tourism as a whole,” he said.
Kariuki conceded that the industry is on its knees with 3.5 million jobs directly employed in the tourism value chain (agriculture, manufacturing, transport, women, youth, SMEs) at risk.
Hotelier Dennis Gwaro, General Manager of three-star Plaza Beach Hotel in Mombasa, noted that more needs to be done to cushion the industry from total collapse.

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