Kenya is the first country globally to be awarded the recommended status of the “Safer Tourism Seal” by Rebuilding Travel.
The Cabinet Secretary (CS) for Tourism and Wildlife Najib Balala was presented with the award in a virtual event attended by global tourism leaders under the Rebuilding Travel umbrella, a global pro-tourism industry group composed of members of tourism boards, ministers of tourism, professional associations, industry stakeholders, researchers and academics, as well as travellers.
Speaking after receiving the recognition, CS Balala said that the award is testimony to Kenya’s continued efforts to ensure travellers’ safety following the global Covid-19 Pandemic.
“As a destination, we have put together health and safety measures that are aimed at ensuring the safe reopening of the tourism sector. This is to ensure that our citizens, travellers, and workers are well protected. On behalf of my country I am happy to receive this recognition that shows we are headed in the right direction in regard to the Covid-19 safety protocols,” said Balala.
A press statement to newsrooms indicated that the Safer Travel Seal would be crucial in building travellers’ confidence in the destination as International travel resumes and hospitality outlets re-open. The seal which is a recognizable symbol throughout the world will be key to positioning Kenya as a safe and preferred destination.
“After the pandemic broke, Kenya joined the world in the World Tourism organization’s (UNWTO) #TravelTomorrow campaign which was aimed at asking travellers to remain safe at home. The Ministry of Tourism through the Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) also partnered with the private sector to keep the destination alive through a virtual live streaming and the #TheMagicAwaits Campaign. The Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife has actively kept the Crisis Communication research center in collaboration with Kenyatta University (KU) active in establishing the challenges that affect the tourism sector at this period and mitigating on the same. The Destination Crisis and issues management Strategy has since been launched and a committee gazetted to oversee the crisis on a long-term basis,” read the statement.
To receive this recognition, a destination must address key aspects known as “tourism surety” through ensuring, travellers’ safety, security, destination’s reputation, economic viability, and health.
This recognition follows the Safe Travel Stamp award to Kenya by the World Travel and Tourism Council earlier in June this year.
“I can say confidently that we have rolled out successfully the protocols we put in place together with the Ministry of Health. If you visit our hotels, eateries, and other tourism outlets in Kenya you will be ensured of safety if you adhere to the guidelines. I encourage all those who wish to visit our country to do so with confidence,” added CS Balala
The rebuilding travel members congratulated CS Balala for the award and recognized the initiatives taken by the government of Kenya through the Ministry of Tourism and the Ministry of Health in ensuring traveler safety.
The global tourism and travel sector like other sectors that drive economies has been badly hit following the outbreak of the Covid-19 Pandemic. Locally, the sector is gradually re-opening following the ease in lock down measures put in place by the government to curb the spread of the virus and the resumption of air travel. Hotels and other tourism attractions have put in place the safety protocols provided to ensure the safety of visitors and their workers.
The Safer Tourism Seal recognition will be up for renewal in 2022 if the destination will have maintained the “tourism surety” requirements.
By Joseph Ng’ang’a