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Gov’t working to revive tourism sector from covid-19 shocks

The government will work with all partners in the tourism sector to bring in measures that will help the industry recover from the effects of Covid-19, said the Labour and Social Protection Chief Administrative Secretary Jackson Kalla.

Kalla said among the moves the government made included the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to suspend the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).

It also ensured nobody lost a job in the course of the pandemic, came up with covid-19 protocols, provided incentives, and did skill audits in the industry, among others.

Speaking during the 18th annual symposium themed “Rebuilding Tourism” CAS Kalla said that the government has also come up with a framework of recognizing informal skills through the recognition of prior learning by the National Industrial Training Authority (NITA).

“The government has come up with ways to tap in the skills of those with no formal education. Here the experience also matters in terms of being absorbed into the job,” he said.

His sentiments were echoed by the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Kenya Association of Hotel keepers and Caterers Mike Macharia who said the 12 per cent wage bill by the government has helped them where in 2020, they sat and signed a MoU with the unions whose aim was to protect jobs and freeze all collective bargains agreements.

“The government gave us a stimulus package and that was sorted out. Most of the hotels have implemented paying their workers a 100 per cent salary,” said Macharia.

Mombasa has reported a 75 per cent increase of the business with 40 to 50 per cent in upcountry.

He noted that although the industry was very much affected for the last two years, they are now back to the market and their main target is the local market.

“If 70 per cent of Kenyans are consumers, we can survive any tragedy. It will take about four years for the hotels to recover because maintaining hotels is expensive. But the majority of workers have gone back to work and are earning as per their contracts,” said Musau.

Macharia noted that to help revive the sector, there is need for air transport capacity. He said the hoteliers have been on the record asking for the upgrade of Kisumu to be an international airport and Mombasa to be a second hub to Jomo Kenyatta for international flights to maintain clients.

“If we don’t allow our customers in, they will go to another destination that will allow them in. Our biggest competitor is now Zanzibar for the coastal product,” he said.

Macharia asked the government to relook at the transport policy and allow more aircrafts to land in Mombasa not forgetting there is also a need to protect our space and our national carrier.

“As industry, the proposals we have given protect the national carrier. I can recall when they were talking about nationalizing Kenya Airways. It was the same industry that came out and said that is a wrong move, so we are conscious of our national airline but we would like some more tourists to come in and there is a way we can achieve both,” added Macharia.

By Chari Suche

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