The arrival of a Coronavirus vaccine in Kenya early this month has seen the travel and hospitality industry start preparing for a rebound in demand following a historically horrible year.
Restaurants and eating points are expected to be buoyed as the government rolls out the COVID-19 vaccination program, however, industry stakeholders still predict that 2021 will be a rough year for the travel and hospitality industries and full recovery could be a year away.
“The vaccine is expected to be a significant boon for tourism and hospitality industry, which has been badly affected by border closures, travel restrictions, curfew, and social distancing measures related to Covid-19. We predict an increase of between 15% – 20% bookings and accommodation,” said Hasnain Noorani, PrideInn Group Managing Director.
The news has raised hopes of a quick recovery from both the health-related challenges and the economic impacts of the pandemic.
“However, with a vaccine allowing for greater movement and trade, we are hopeful that it will lead to a quicker rebound in tourism activity and have a ripple effect, “he added
While a vaccine will be key to any resumption in mass tourism, industry players say that other measures will also be crucial to recovery.
“I believe that the main priority of the tourism industry is to get people traveling and doing business and events again safely by giving government confidence that systematic Covid-19 prevention measures are possible and reliable prior to having a vaccine,” noted Victor Shitakha, Chairman, Kenya Coast Tourism Association.
Although the situation eased with the withdrawal of movement restrictions many parts of the world are now experiencing a second spike in coronavirus cases, leading to further restrictions.
“As we all know, the vaccine program will take a while to roll out to all parts of the country, so pre- and post-vaccine programs should be concurrently available,” added Shitakha.
In addition to the fiscal constraints on households, some tourism-related companies may find it difficult to return to business after spending much of 2020 and 2021 either closed or operating severely below capacity.
“Prior to the release of the vaccine, people have been cautious about leisure travel, this has seen many facilities indefinitely close. The sector will definitely recover but not without the government’s support,’’ Hasnain