The Kenya Association of Travel Agents (KATA) and various other associations under the umbrella body Kenya Tourism Federation (KTF) came together on Wednesday through a webinar to discuss measures of business survival during and after the COVID-19 crisis.
According to a press statement sent to newsrooms, the associations explored the continuous devastating impact on the industry in finance, human resource and business continuity and ways of emerging from the crisis stronger.
The KTF Chairman, Mohammed Hersi noted that the longer the disease lasts, the longer it will take to revive the industry and the economy at large.
Tourism and Wildlife Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS), Joseph Boinett, who was also in attendance, urged the travel and tourism industry players to work together as the world seeks ways of getting rid of the highly contagious virus. “The post Covid-19 world will be new and different,” he pointed out.
The KATA Chief Executive Officer, Ms. Agnes Mucuha pointed out that Kenya’s travel industry has lost Sh.5.5 billion year on year compared for January to April period, representing a 42 percent loss of sales.
“Travel is hedged on aviation, and for it to perform, international borders need to open up, a Covid-19 health certificate must be in place, and a vaccination against the Covid virus strain will be crucial to the resumption of international travel,” she said.
This, she added, is the reason why the aviation and travel industry has a bleak future as no revenue is streaming in.
“Some airlines like South African Airways and Virgin Australia are going through insolvency. If airlines do not receive support from their national governments, they will go bankrupt,” Ms. Mucuha said.
She called upon government and corporates to pay up pending bills owed to travel agents to allow their businesses to survive the crisis. The government owes the travel industry over Sh.400 million for ticket sales over the past two fiscal years.
“There are some companies that will not survive the coronavirus pandemic. The government needs to support these businesses. Instead of closing shop, these businesses can partner or form mergers for survival and later make a comeback post Covid-19,” she advised.
Travel agents, she continued, may have to rethink their business strategy and cease extending credit in future for business sustainability.
Boinett assured the travel industry that the government is processing the payments for the pending bills owed and that the payments shall be settled soon.
On human resource matters, the Kenya Association of Hotel Keepers and Caterers (KAHC) CEO, Mike Macharia talked about the options businesses have with their staff which are within the law. These include paid and unpaid leaves, and pay reductions, all of which, he emphasized, have to be agreed on by the employer and employee.
By Joseph Ng’ang’a