Allan Kilavuka the man giving it his all to save Kenya Airways. I salute you.

In midst of despair and thieving hands we also have a few Kenyans who can sacrifice it all to make things work.

Alan is walking the talk …..

Allan Kilavuka a man who came to meet us at our offices in Mombasa when he was appointed MD Jambojet is one unique person.

Since then we have maintained close contact and today The Standard focused on his sacrifice to turn things around at our troubled national carrier Kenya Airways.

Allan is NOT just talking but he is indeed walking the talk , Allan took a 80% paycut to send a clear message to his team that it was never going to be business as usual.

Allan is NOT some desperate chap, Allan spent 12+ years at General Electric. He was Commercial Finance Director GE Africa and later Global Operations Director Africa. Allan could land a job anywhere else and walk out on KQ but he is staying put to fix it.

Simply put Allan is fixing the mess left behind by others together with another man who is also sacrificing time and energy to chair a loss making airline in the name of Michael Joseph.

Ladies and Gentlemen please join me to applaud Allan Kilavuka for this sacrifice and it is clear that NOT all Kenyans are out to shortchange the nation.

On behalf Kenya Tourism Federation we wish Allan the very best of luck. It is in our best interest as Kenya that KQ flies out of it’s current turbulence. What many Kenyans dont know and appreciate is that KQ despite all the challenges is flying 150 flights a day into and out of Nairobi. The day KQ is no more so when we will know what it means flying through other countries and do with long transits. Trust me its tiring and demeaning.

If it is commitment we have now found the right MD and the right Chairman in AK and MJ. They are in it to help save KQ , folks they are NOT in it for the money. Let us support them , what else would you ask of an MD who has taken 80% paycut way before even Covid19 happened.

To our government, if you are serious about KQ then you now have the right leadership, please dont botch it.

As always I choose to remain an optimist that Allan’s sacrifice will not be in vain. Allan you will NOT walk alone.

Mohammed Hersi
Chairman
Kenya Tourism Federation.

The elephant that almost lost its trunk to a snare…..

The elephant that almost lost its
trunk to a snare working twice as hard to drink to its fill. Please note the injured head of the trunk.

As we reopened Salt Lick Safari Lodge I bumped into our usual herds of elephants that frequent the water hole that is right opposite the lounge.

It is one of the closest close up you will ever get to a wild African elephant.

The purpose of my post this morning is to show you the challenges these gentle giants are facing to remain  a live.

A couple of weeks ago the rangers at our 28,000 private sanctuary noticed that one of the elephants in the herd was having serious trouble drinking water and the pain it was undergoing was real.

Elephants are emotional animals and they will even shed tears to express their emotions, they are one of the rare animals that mourn their dead. They express deep grief when they lose a loved one.

In Tsavo including Taita Hills Wildlife Sanctuary bush meat hunters are very many and they will place myriad of snares to trap small game like dik diks and antelopes. It is illegal act but they still do it.

Our rangers have to walk on foot to identify the snares and remove them. This is what KWS and Shedrick Wildlife Trust would do on daily basis.

In the process an elephant trunk may end up getting trapped and the outcome can be quite serious and sometimes may lead to death.

If you closely watch this bull you will notice the trunk was seriously damaged by a snare and officers from KWS and Shedrick Wildlife Trust  managed to sedate it and removed the snare that was grinding and eating into the trunk. You can imagine the pain and the wound was going to turn septic and the head of the trunk would have fallen off.

A trunk is an elephant’s most versatile tool, used for breathing, smelling, touching, grasping, and producing sound. It’s probably the most amazing body part of this gentle giant. It is like someone tying your tongue with a wire and you almost end losing half your tongue

You can see the effects of the injury, water seems to flow out of the damaged trunk which means it will spend more time and energy to fetch enough water.

Well I thought you should know what it takes to preserve our wildlife heritage in light of human wildlife conflict abd getting the local community sustainable ways to earn a living.

We  are committed to engage directly with the local community at all times and as a start 85% of the workforce are drawn from the local community
We also intend to buy local products for that indirect employment. We buy most of our vegetables from local women suppliers

I would like to thank profoundly KWS and Shedrick Wildlife Trust who have always arrived quickly when we alert them about any animal in distress and more so elephants, giraffes, lions etc

Well as always I choose to remain an optimist

Mohammed Hersi

Taita Hills Wildlife Sanctuary.

Nairobi National Park (NNP) is NOT vacant land, get that into your head.

These are the real owners of Nairobi National Park. We are only custodians. Photo Courtesy

While many have been fighting for the continued and very existence of NNP we are also aware that many out there who salivate when they see any open space. They consider every open space occupied by trees , plants and innocent silent creatures as empty land and waste of space. It is clear that they slept through both geography and biology lessons in school.

Since NNP debate is once again a hot topic and we have your attention allow me to pen my thoughts.

Firstly NOT every single open space has to have human settlement besides man has been ruthless globally to evict other mammals and at the same time destroy what mother nature gave us. The universe is not just about man.

Nbi size is just about 700Sqkm while Greater Nbi ie Kiambu. Parts of Muranga, parts of Kajiado and Machakos can easily scale up to 20,000Sqkm.

On the other hand NNP is only 117 sqkm which is a drop in the ocean, even if we were to surrender NNP for human settlement it will never quench the hunger for land. It was originally called the Southern Conservation Reserve and that got whitled and whitled until we were left with 117 km.

NNP is NOT your ordinary piece of land . It is home to over 300 species of birds and if we add migratory ones we can hit 500 mark. They equally have a right to live and the right to exist which is very clear in all holy books be it The Bible , The Quran , The Gita etc

NNP was originally Maasai land including what is current Nbi city. We have communities around NNP that still allow animals on their land since NNP is also grazing area for herbivores in the dry season as they migrate along the Athi Kapiti plains. I must salute the Masai community who have always balanced their way of life and survival of the animals. Many of us don’t even know a simple fact that a Masai would never touch bush meat let alone eat it.

NNP is also a big Rhino sanctuary haven where they get relocated to other conservancies in Kenya. Rhino is seriously endangered and anyone who does not get that has no business to discuss NNP.

Rhinos seriously endangered species . Photo courtesy

Most 80% of corporate, business and MICE visitors to Nairobi end up visiting NNP and it is also HQ of KWS the people who look after our fauna and flora. It is serious education centre for our children to learn about conservation besides NNP idea was mooted in 1917 and gazetted by people who were visionary way before Kenya was born.

Well we can still take NNP and make it a human settlement , will that solve our problem with congestion?

If we failed to deliver on many other fronts on 20,000+ Sqkm then some 110Sqkm will not solve our problem.

I even came across a letter by some Kenyans in the diaspora who go by the name ” Parents in USA” who support the same warped thougts of annexing NNP or even reduce it to some useless zoo. These parents in USA maybe they can start a campaign to convert all available recreational parks in NY. LA. Atlanta and many others cities across USA and turn them into some concrete jungle. Going by their view then Central park in the heart of NY a congested city would be better off as an extension of the concrete jungle as opposed it to being used by sun worshipping sunbathers who pour out into park at the slightest sign of the sun and the many ” idlers” who just waste time doing nothing.

If it was their wish then Uhuru park will be gone and Karura is useless to have.

Lastly we take our clean air for granted….the day you land in Mumbai or Guangzhou and many other cities globally is when you will appreciate what these natural open areas do for our health.

Many other parts of the world we have people who have never seen stars and they marvel when they come to Africa. Thanks to smog and light pollution they see nothing.

A lioness and Nairobi skyline in the background. Photo courtesy

NNP is part of the lungs that serve Nairobi city including many who see nothing but some 100×50 plots.

Finally to anyone who harbours thoughts to annex NNP sorry it is not vacant it has its owners….it is home for beautiful creatures created by the same God who created you and gave you a slightly more superior brain power.

Please think and think hard….

Mohammed Hersi
Chairman
Kenya Tourism Federation

In ” New Normal ” buffets service takes a break and enter waiter service. You are now a Royalty.

Waiter service is a superior level of service…please enjoy it.

This Sunday I would like to focus on reopening of hotels and the new normal that you will encounter.

Folks many things have had to change but today I would like to focus on how meal service has changed.

We are all used to buffets and until pre-covid lavish buffets where you are spoilt for choice was the norm . Every chef would try all sorts of display to win your heart. Every hotel / resort will take great photos of their buffets to promote themselves.

Well sadly buffets have been identified to be a high contact spot due to the myriad of serving spoons at each chaffing dish or every dish displayed. Visiting even a city hotel buffets breakfast is my favourite meal but all that we now forced to slow down.

So what is the new normal?

Most hotels and resorts with smaller number of guests are first going the table d’hôte or set menu way, this is a limited menu offered for a set number of courses.

Folks this is how royalties are served, when a state banquet is hosted in honour of a visiting head of state you get served using a set menu with various courses. Each dish is a course and has nothing to do with studying. You see cooking and eating is an art. When you get served a table d’hôte menu you will see a 3 course menu which is bare minimum or even a 7 course menu.

A waiter will be at your service and once you sit every dish is served while you are sitted and it helps you to bond with your partner or family.

Chefs take quality time to craft a set menu and trust me it is much harder than a buffet since a chef will have to be very creative to make sure sure that your 5 days stay no meal is identical be it lunch or dinner. You try that at home and you will find it is a herculean task.

Chefs take a lot of pride in preparing a set menu and placing of items on that plate is an art. As professionals when we deliver a dish be it a starter, salad main course or a deseert first eat with your eyes, yes eat your eyes. Appreciate the colours, apprecaite the efforts made the kitchen brigade to create auch a nice display. Please dont just dig in. Every chef his goal is to plate what we call Instagramable dish. We encourage you to take a photo and share with the world.

The waiter in this case is the messenger of the chef and he will stand there making face contact to see if you are pleased with what you have just seen. He will wish you Bon Apetit or simply Good Apetite.

Now many people may feel that they will be getting a raw deal matters meal portion size , if anything you are now getting a better deal where every single dish is handmade and crafted before you are served. This only happens at fine dining and boutique hotels where you pay a fortune.

You may also think that you may not get full… if you go through the courses trust me you will not have room for dessert my favourites part.

So what is our request?

Please be patient with your waiting staff, while they will endevour to serve you quickly you may feel that they are slow. A typical 5 course menu plan for 90 or 120 minutes esp dinner. A meal is where a family is expected to bond and this is the silver lining of covid effects . If you feel you dont want all the courses you are allowed to skip a course.

In waiter service children, ladies and elderly get served first in that order. The host who sits at the head of the table is served last. Please keep in mind this etiquette. In waiter service plates are cleared when everyone is done , please dont beckon the waiter ” Toa hii sahani hapa”. Young ones are exempt but they learn fast.

Some resorts may opt to serve starters like soup and salads on the table then opt to set up a buffet for the main course. In this case you will no longer serve yourself to avoid the high contact touch point serving spoons . You will find kitchen staff in uniform, mask and gloves ready. You simply point out the items you want and they will plate it for you while you maintain social distance.

Folks life has to go on and a key sector like hotels have been closed for 5 months putting so many livelihoods and businesses at risk.

We thank you for coming out to support us and in return we promise to serve you like royalties and your investment will be patience since waiter service is considered a royalty and we shall endevour to give you value for money.

Karibuni

Mohammed Hersi
Chairman
Kenya Tourism Federation

Has Kenya and Africa dodged the Covid19 bullet? My gut feel tells me Yes but let’s be cautious . Danger still lurks .

If Africa is not able to test , test & test  then mortality rate vould be a fair measure

When the Covid 19 virus was first reported by WHO we all thought it will be contained and it will remain in China or at most a few neighbouring countries to China. We became all agitated as Southern China flight continued to ply the Nbi route and our very own national carrier .

Can we undo the gains ? Is the risk still present? Well sadly answer is again yes .

Well the virus never reached us via China but one of our own returning Kenyan via London followed immediately by another Kenyan via USA.

I am not here to delve into history but it is important we reflect as we plan ahead.

Firstly I wish to congratulate and thank H.E The President for the swift action in tackling Covid. The appointment of C.S Kagwe infused new life in to the health ministry which was in the news more often for all the wrong reasons and he is certainly the right man for the job and he came in at the right time.

Folks we were facing a strange virus and it is still is so. It is always best to take extreme measures as opposed to trying to take action when things are already out of control .

Suspension of flights was the right move then as much as we were shocked by that swift action.

Closure of airports led to no arrivals and hotels and resorts had to close by default , a position never imagined it would happen. As I write this tourism and entire economy is belly up.

Schools and learning institutions were also closed followed by places of worship be it a mosque a churches or a temples since leading holy sites like Mecca and Vatican all closed shop and it was the right thing to do.

Curfew followed and I think this really helped to slow down the Infection rate as we never knew much about the virus , then cessation movement of Nbi and Msa was also key.

Now what next ?

Two days ago we were warned that August & September will be Infection peak and that was not the kind of News we wanted to hear considering that we are all feeling the impact of closures in our business and life . A day later H.E came out with a more reassuring position in that we cannot remain under lockdown for ever. He reckons we need to reopen but the big question is the how . He was also very clear that responsibility will then shift to you and I. We must keep an eye on August and September, we must respect the experts.

Since we now understand the virus better .

80% of infected persons heal without any medical intervention while a very small % get hospitalised and even fewer end up in using ventilators.

While we lag behind in testing we now need to look at Morbidity Vs Mortality. You may have the virus but may not die from it. It looks like Kenya and Africa is a beneficiary so is Japan and even UK where 80% of the mortality are people over the age of 60.

While morbidity may not be visible we cannot hide or cover mortality . So far we have lost 51 Kenyans and half of those fatalities had underlying conditions while a huge % have recovered . From this it looks like we dogged the Covid 19 bullet . It could be our huge youth population , could be our diet , could be our immune system … well jury still out there but also don’t we rule out divine hand in this since most of us are believers.

It was predicated that by end April Kenya would have 10,000 cases and Africa would hit 500,000 and above. From one of the graphs on mortality same days after 1st case was reportered in Kenya we are at 51 while places like Italy , USA and UK were all past the 10,000 mark in mortality

Now what is the way forward , well please allow me to share my 10 points

  1. We must double our efforts to sanitize . Wash hands and sanitise . Even ordinary flu has taken a hiding .
  2. We must continue to wear masks esp in public space.
  3. Temperature checks at public places before entry. In case if anything above 37.5 means you are denied entry and report made to Covid centre.
  4. Social distancing must continue if anything let’s up the game go physical distancing. Kenyans we are quite poor with this. Don’t get too close.
  5. Lift the cessation order affecting Nbi. Mombasa. Kwale and Kilifi
  6. Review the curfew hours to 9pm. 7pm meant leaving offices at 3pm go beat traffic. This is key, completely lifting means we will go back to partying like Covid was in town for a period . Folks Covid is now in community transmission stage and the last thing we want is to undo all the gains of the last three months
  7. Worship houses be it a church , mosque or temple should continue to remain closed. Christians missed Easter. Muslims missed many Friday’s and entire Ramadhan and Eid . If we sacrificed all that we can wait a bit longer . Social distancing in religious places is hard to implement besides you can pray to your God from anywhere. Holy Makka and The Vatican both remain closed so our clergy pushing for reopening may have to go next door Tanzania.
  8. Schools remain closed but allow consider candidates to go back as we cautiously test the waters .
  9. Reopen the airports with strict clear protocols. Copy from Dubai , Singapore and China on how they have done it . Slowly we start reopening the economy

10.Consider lifting the lockdown in Old Town and Eastleigh. Continued lockdown negatively affects immune system . There is even a bigger worry that anyone coming out of a lockdown could be susceptible to opportunistic Infections. To my folks in Eastleigh and Old Town I hope that was learning curve. Let us listen to the experts and authorities .

Finally I appeal to all my fellow Kenyans , when the conditions are relaxed it does not mean it’s time to party and act reckless. You may have spared yourself and family Covid 19 only to contract it while choosing to enjoy and having fun late hours at some place

The choice is yours but keep in mind that virus does not move , people do. Move in a responsible way to help us flatten the curve . H.E equally made it very clear . Relaxing the conditions is a matter of when and not if but are we ready ?

As always I choose to remain an optimist as we navigate this uncharted waters of Covid 19.

I believe we shall overcome .

Stay safe with your loved ones.

Let me know what are your thoughts ? Let us engage .

Mohammed Hersi
Mombasaa

Our fresh produce farmers need protection from cartels

Open Letter to CS Munya. Governor Joho & Major Badi

Early this week I posted my usual piece on my FB. I came across loads of feedback . I use FB to gauge the mood of the people on any topic and I decided to focus reports that price of onions have doubled even tripled because TZ was our key source . Since the border closure for passengers by Kenya , then TZ decided that even cargo won’t be allowed and suddenly the impact of lack of some farm produce including onions was felt as far as farm rich zones like Nyeri and Embu.

Our hard-working farmers are asking for protection from cartels NOT handouts .Farming is sheer hardwork, I was brought up on a farm so I know what it means . CS Munya you reined your guns on the cartels in the tea & maize industry please we need you to turn those guns to cartels who frustrate fresh produce farmers who are now choosing to abandon farming all together

In Mombasa I took time to speak to traders at Kongowea market and the stuff I was told shocked me it was even worse at Wakulima market in Nbi where cartels call the shots .

While farm inputs in Kenya are taxed like there is no tommorow Uganda and TZ is the opposite . We cannot tax ourselves to prosperity and that is one basic economic lesson that our govemrnet must understand. A time will come when there is no one to tax.

As a farmer you may have overcome all the hurdles only to be confronted by bloody cartels at Kongowea and even bigger mafia at Wakulima market .

Two of the chaps who supply hotels told me how each produce has its own bunch of gangs. There is a specific cartel for tomatoes , potatoes , cabbages etc
He said despite trading at Kongowea for the past 30 years he cannot bring a lorry of tomatoes from his farm from up country without a clearance from the cartels . If you dare do that ” Utakula tomato yako”.

Surely are we wartorn country ? We allow thugs to control the supply chain ? They wait at the tail end to take the cream . Our county inspectorate and askaris will pounce on you on flimsy grounds but allow thugs to rule the fresh produce market . A policeman will be ruthless when they find a Kenyan on street rushing to get home to beat the curfew timings . Where are they when it comes to this ? How can we brag to be a land of rule of law ?

My contact told me how a cartel member will walk into Kongowea with Ksh100 Bob but walk out with Ksh20,000 because they also steal openly from the traders . He recalls a female relative who brought 3000 cabbages but she could not account for 600 pcs and she was left holding less revenue compared to what she had invested . She cried all evening and she never came back to Kongowea. These thugs roam the markets and will angle for a fight if you don’t play ball and they love chaos and half of your delivery will disappear into thin air. The traders find it safer to pay them for “protection” . This should NEVER have been allowed to happen in the first place.

To my President , let’s not aim for bigger things in our Agenda 4 Agriculture when we cannot even protect our hard working fresh produce farmers.

My contact says it’s Pain Pain Pain . Many young farmers have decided never again and that is the reason we are left at the mercy of TZ and UG supplies.

We have failed our farmers . They are not asking for free handouts . They are only asking for protection from these leeches .

I leave you with this quote ” Once in life you need a doctor , lawyer , a policeman or a preacher but everyday , three times a day you need a farmer”

Please join me to applaud our farmers and it’s about time we protect them from these cartels .

As always I choose to remain an optimist

Mohammed Hersi
Mombasa

Tourism and travel business in Post Covid19 will not be easy but opportunities abound

On 31st December 2019 like any end year the world erupted in fireworks as we saw off 2019 to usher in a new year and quite special one for that matter with identical numbers of 2020. The last time such a year was observed was over a century ago as the world marked a year after the end of the First World War in 1919. Globally we were all very positive and we looked forward to a great year both in business and travel trade so was Kenya and East Africa.

That same day as families gathered around to see off 2019, in far flung China in Wuhan capital city of Hubei province something strange was going on which ordinarily would not have been considered anything unusual. The Chinese authorities had made a report to W.H.O offices in China of a new type of coronavirus which was finally isolated on 7 January 2020. We finally came to know it as Covid19 which is Corona Virus December 2019. China has had its fair share of virus outbreaks thanks to all the wet markets but they have always managed to keep it under control but this time round it was not going to be the case.

We saw off 2019 to usher in a new year
quite special one for that matter with identical numbers of 2020.

Little did we know that in less than 100 days our lives would completely change from Antigua to Zimbabwe, from Fiji to Alaska from the North Pole to the South Pole entire globe way of life would be disrupted . The virus moved swiftly faster than a savanna wild bush fire across. Thanks to ease of air travel it spread so fast that the world was left shell shocked. It reached Europe where Italy and Spain bore the brunt of deaths followed by UK and USA. The virus checked in into each and every country and the few who claimed to be virus free was mainly due to lack of testing as opposed to real absence of the virus. Within few weeks virus had landed on each and every continent. It was now official Covid19 was on even terrorists took a break.

The impact of the deadly virus was fast and furious , first to suffer was travel where unimaginable events started to happen with nations closing their airspace and airline announcing flights cancellations as nations started to evacuate their citizens from all corners of the world to go back home. Hotels suddenly emptied and as holiday makers cut short their stays while forward bookings were left in abeyance.

The virus checked in into each and every country. The few who claimed to be virus free was mainly due to lack of testing as opposed to real absence of the virus.

As I write this piece close to four months after the official announcement of Covid19 at a wet market in Wuhan the global disruption to trade not to mention tourism has been staggering. All passenger airlines are grounded and suddenly aircraft parking space became a challenge and in some cases some aircrafts took up parking slots meant for cars. On the other hand 90% of hotels and resorts around the world closed shop a scenario never ever seen before let alone ever imagined. The world is still shell shocked as we try to come to terms with new terminologies like social distancing, isolation, contact tracing, quarantine and wearing of masks which is now considered the new normal and now part of our wardrobe until further notice.

Within few weeks virus had landed on each and every continent. It was now official Covid19 was on even terrorists took a break.

While medics around the world continue to battle the virus and scientists race against time to develop a vaccine how will Post Covid-19 travel look like?

Trust me it will be one tedious journey. It will be time consuming and a lot of things we took for granted will have to change. Any tourism player who thinks that we will simply go back to our usual normal world of pre Dec 31st 2019 is grossly mistaken. It will be a whole new world that is now referred to as New Normal. Travel and tourism will turn out to be expensive in the beginning more so before a vaccine or treatment is found. Travel will only be for the brave and those with deep pockets.

How will the new world of tourism look like?

While historically yellow fever certificate made us pull hair, just imagine a Covid-19 free certificate. While you may have the certificate you may be tested before you board and once you arrive at your destination you are again tested at the airport before you are allowed final entry. Imagine a family of 4 where one of them turns positive? Very few people would have the mental strength to deal with such uncertainties in the short to mid-term especially after the isolation, job losses and other mental strains they have undergone. The world will be faced with a terrified populace.

International travel would take longer and people will opt for shorter trips within their own countries which are simpler to avoid Covid-19 tests and can be booked in advance or last minute. This is real and presents a danger that we need to be weary of as East Africans. Our source market of UK, Europe like Italy and Spain, USA have all borne the brunt of the virus. It will take them a long time before they gain the confidence of flying out to another country let alone another continent.

While a vaccine may help to reduce the post Covid-19 troubles but treatment is the ultimate solution. In the absence of a treatment which has to be both affordable and available it means borders will be opened and closed in a flash. The paranoia of governments and border patrols will outweigh the needs of a few to have a vacation. Several countries are already taking bills to their parliament to bar their nationals from flying abroad for remaining part of 2020. They are adopting a wait and see attitude. Therefore we could be seeing opening and closing of countries, airports and borders for a period of time. With concerns of second and third waves of the virus governments will not be too eager and quick to open their countries and welcome foreign travellers in.

Airlines bring in tourists and with depressed air travel tourism will struggle to bounce back. Air travel cost is dictated by volumes and for a while air travel will go back to the sixties and seventies mode where air travel was for the elite and only a small segment will afford to take to the skies.

A vaccine may help to reduce the post Covid-19 troubles but
treatment is the ultimate solution

East Africa as a destination, I am afraid only a vaccine and treatment will allow long haul charters to resume more so for the beach destination of Zanzibar and Mombasa ( Kenya Coast ). Charters are mass market and where every seat not sold means lost margin for the charter operator. If airlines are to operate at 50% capacity it will prove to be very expensive and that will be one nail into the coffin of charter business. The same shall apply even on local flights, last minute hops will no longer be affordable with aircrafts flying at half capacity as much as you are all masked. Filling the aircraft with 6 to 9 adults in one row will disappear for some time as airlines are forced to implement social distancing in the air. It will mean higher prices for tickets and this will carve a niche for those with disposable income and likely to be the upper and upper middle class which is a relative proportion of the travellers that visit East Africa.

In the international market the era of jumping into an aircraft and heading off in less than seven days will be gone. Couples, families and other travellers will think numerous times prior to booking the trip due to the uncertainty prevailing across the world.

Many of our potential clients will have been furloughed and others will have been made redundant. Holidays will be the last thing on their mind. Financial woes will be priority and governments will reduce the support measures, meaning everyone have to support themselves. With economies depressed, it will take time for those without work to secure income and consider travel. We will emerge with complete uncertainty and unknown as to what the future will hold. What was the norm will no longer be the norm with people thinking about holidays. Priority will be welfare, source of income and many will still be dealing with the loss of loved ones they never even managed to see on their death beds as they battled the virus let alone lay them to rest.

Virtual Meetings

In this Covid19 crisis the world discovered that virtual meeting indeed works. In new normal don’t be surprised to see conference and meetings becoming a reserve for local players while international delegates will join via the myriad video conferencing channels. It means hotels and resort as venues must invest in state of the art video conferencing equipment backed by strong reliable bandwidth to stream the conference without the frequent annoying buffering.

Fancy Buffets & Mass Dinning
Will have to take a time out

Hotel dining will have to change in the short term where social distancing will have to be practiced. It means buffet and mass food display will be gone for a while to avoid the risk of infection where a serving spoon is handled by many diners at a hotel buffet set up. In the short term expect pre-plated food taking place of buffets and in room dining becoming more popular with breakfast and dinner. This will mean higher labour cost for hotels while a substantial investment will also be required in hardware not to mention the staff training to handle quality reliable in room dining. The resorts and hotels that continue with buffet set ups means level of hygiene will be upped to give confidence to any diner that chance of infection is not only reduced but next to zero.

For those who dare book a safari be prepared for masked guests and driver guides. At every lodge where they check in they better be prepared for thermometer temperature checks and constant sanitization where nothing is left to chance. In reality going on safari will be one of the most therapeutic treatments after all the stressful lengthy lockdowns. Due to the pain of arranging for travel don’t be surprised to get lengthy stays hence the correct pricing and attractive pricing will also play out. Africa lodges and camps can easily replace the cruise ship holidays that will be considered to carry a higher risk due to the nature of enclosed shared services, that will only happen if we reinvent ourselves.

Ease of booking and cancelation policy will dictate future travel and immediate recovery. Travellers will only take the risk of travel when they are pretty sure that they can cancel with no penalties and if there is penalty then it is reasonable amount as opposed to complete loss of their funds like what used to happen in the pre-covid19 good times. The destination that choose to be flexible are the ones the ones that will bounce back. Rigid destination will take a very long time to recover and if they are not careful will be slowly writing their obituary.

In reality going on safari will be one of the most therapeutic treatments after all the stressful lengthy lockdowns. African lodges and camps can easily replace the cruise ship holidays that will be considered to carry a higher risk due to the nature of enclosed shared services.

The next 18 months will not be easy. Survival will be crucial in the short to mid-term 6 to 12 months. It is said “ it is NOT what happened to you that matters it is how you respond to it that matters most”. We shall overcome, but how long it will take and what we will need to do to survive is the million dollar question.

Domestic tourism will start to come back first, followed by regional travel hence Africa must make it easy for our people to travel within the continent. Europe has done well because of the open borders and free visa between the 23 Schengen states same goes for the GCC member states. Africa is still closed and it is even easier for an international visitor to enter Africa as opposed to a fellow African. Open borders must also be supported by a working and efficient aviation sector.

African countries have never been great in running airlines save for Ethiopian airlines. I hope and pray that South African Airways SAA gets out of ICU while my very own Kenya Airways KQ also finds its way out of High Dependency unit (HDU) so to speak. With the likes of RwandAir, Tanzania Airways and Uganda Airways all taking to the skies we pray and hope they stay healthy in the air to make the intra Africa travel a reality. Aviation is expensive business which requires serious financial discipline and good governance which sadly is alien to Africa hence African countries must consider merging their airlines to create a few well run airlines in the new normal post-covid19 .

While hotel investors have management agreement with known leading hotel chains it is high time African countries tapped into the expertise and staying power of Ethiopia Airlines who are the undisputed kings of African skies. They fly shoulder to shoulder with well-established global brands. Ethiopian Airlines (74) is tried and tested and it is the oldest airline in Africa even older than British Airways (46) and Lufthansa (67), Singapore (48) Emirates (35) and Kenya Airways (43).

It is high time African countries tapped into the expertise and staying power of Ethiopia Airlines who are the undisputed kings of African skies.

We should not shy off to tap into skills of Ethiopian airlines by signing lease and management agreements with them. Africa does not have the luxury of time in post –covid19 and it is no time for African countries to pretend that they can run an airline when they could not do it for more than half a century since independence. Let Ethiopian connect the African continent and we all give them all freedom rights while each country will then focus on domestic flights where Ethiopian will again help each country to set up domestic airlines to sharpen their competitive age. Imagine for once the bulk purchasing power of Africa from an aviation point of view. What is the use of flying to some far flung country only to make a loss and seek frequent state bailouts. To massage our egos that we own an airline is pretty useless when an airline turns out to be a bottom less pit where good money is lost after bad money year in year out.

On the international scene as a destination be it Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda or Rwanda our strategy for recovery needs to be focussed on mid to long term considering the state of the world post Covid-19. We cannot expect a quick recovery and we will compete against hundreds of other destinations 110 + destination as a minimum where many of them receive government funding and support. We therefore need to have a cautious approach as to what we plan for the future in terms of rates, conditions and these will help define our return back to relative volumes. It will be a long road and we must work closely together as partners with give and take in the hope that we return to our strong volumes of the past.

Mohammed Hersi

Chairman

Kenya Tourism Federation and Group Director Of Operations Pollmans Tours & Safaris . Kenya .

END

Cut Melinda Gates some slack , direct that anger to our thieving hands in Africa

Folks I finally managed to watch the clip where Melinda talks about Africa and the covid19 crisis . It is a long interview but a clip is embedded here .

I was initially upset but listening to her again and again I just don’t think she is wishing Africa death.

She is worried about the folks in the slums , where social distancing is an alien term where running water is non existent. Melinda has been to more slums in Africa than many of us .

The Gates foundation have supported many charities across Africa including my own Kenya . Bill Gates has played a big role in fighting malaria and polio in Africa and he succeeded in doing that . I am a Rotarian and he is our main donor who has helped us defeat polio and that is a fact that cannot be wished away .

Folks I wish we could get upset as much with the thieving leaders in Africa who deny the masses the benefits of the taxes we pay.

This morning in the Daily Nation paper Bungoma county paid Ksh10,000 $100 for liquid soap that costs Ksh1400 $14 and paid cash Ksh 6.9M. Now those are the shameless thieving hands we ought to be upset about NOT Melinda who is only expressing her worries and she is entitled to it.

How will our own dying in the slums going to help the bank balance of Gates foundation ?

God willing we will not see mass deaths like Ecuador but fact remains we stole the money that was meant to fix our healthcare system. Right here we are on record buying overpriced useless containers and then buying expensive health equipment that are rotting and gathering dust . African leaders used to fly out at the slightest hint of illness not anymore . We are stuck here together.

Let’s turn our anger there NOT Melinda .

As Africans we must be candid with ourselves. When we get called out we are quick to play the racial card. We are very quick to play victim on how the colonialist raped Africa . Folks we have been in charge of our lives for the past six decades. Time to cut out the excuses.

It is a fact that have failed the vulnerable in society and suddenly Covid19 has levelled the playing field and none of us is immune.

Right here in Kenya we have more MP’s and senators than ICU beds even if we added the ones in private hospitals as well. As Africans we must get our priorities right . Any attempt to play racial card sounds like a broken record . Please it is about time we got sincere with ourselves.

Tupambane Na Hali Yetu

Mohammed Hersi
Mombasa. Kenya

Dear Kenyan MP, please come back from Utopia

Dear MPs ,

Please get down from your ivory tower and get real.

Firstly as Kenyans we are NOT indebted to you if anything we helped many of you find decent jobs and in addition to that a Mheshimiwa title. Please can you for once think and act like real Mheshimiwas.

Allow me to educate you .

KRA collect taxes and in turn Treasury will then share what has been collected. If you care to read newspapers and follow the news many companies are closing down and export like flowers and horticulture is now dead. Tourism is also dead when no one can come here. Close to 40 hotels have suspended operations including many in Nairobi , most of the lodges closed and coast is not any better. Diaspora cannot send any more bucks , they are also fighting to remain alive and here you are behaving like some spoilt brat.

When businesses that generate taxes that pay your salaries are closed where do you expect money will come from ? Why do you behave so ignorant of what is going on ? If you think I am making a blanket condemnation then I dare you to step out and support the salary reductions, In the absence of that it is clear you are all united in greed and it is high time we called you out.

You have HUGE loans to pay , bla bla bla. Who told you going to parliament is where you buy a palatial home to be paid in under 5 years ? Oh some of you claim that loads of deductions take away your pay. It is clear you choose to live beyond your means . You are breaking the same law you make where an employee should not take home less than a third of their pay. It is now clear why corruption will not end in this country when you live beyond your means.

Even Wanjiku who sent you to that August house has a Fuliza to service and she is dealing with her woes.

Going to parliament or Senate is a calling , it is NOT some get rich quick plan. You should not expect to do all the things you wanted to do in under 5 years that is greed and lack of planning . If that was your intention then you are in the wrong place. Come and join us in the private sector or come run your business and see if it is any easier.

Instead of helping the Executive you are busy digging in on why you cannot take a pay cut.

This Saturday you earn yourself a huge barb, for those of you who my friends as long as you fly with the same flock you are not any better and greed is the common denominator.

Step out and take a paycut only then will you earn back your Mheshimiwa title.

This time we say Shame On You

Mohammed Hersi
Mombasa

If we are to go lockdown let’s give it a human face more so for the urban vulnerable poor.

Dear Fellow Kenyans,

To defeat this global Covid19 crisis we now need to start thinking of lockdown. It is only a matter of when and not if.

For a smooth lockdown we must get a few things right to make it a success more so to help the vulnerable urban poor.

Firstly many of the urban poor have already left Nairobi and big towns for their rural homes. While middle class Kenyans can stock on dry goods and fill their fridges ordinary folks live hand to mouth. They WALK everyday from Kibera.Likoni. Kisauni etc to go to town to earn a daily earning to help them see another day hence the small packaging that many firms developed and dubbed kadogo economy.

Now we are quite good with Nyumba Kumi and this is where Huduma data should come in handy , we should map all the informal settlements and supply them with basic ration and fresh water. The daily needs by our brothers and sisters in these informal settlements is bare minimum. We just need to be considerate and practice some compassion. If GOK with support from private sector , Kenya Red Cross and well wishers worked together we can get them a ration to last them 21 days then another 21 days if need be as we attempt to break the corona infection chain and flatten the curve. We can then give lockdown a human face .

Announcing a lockdown without a plan for these folks we will be playing with fire. It is said a hungry man is an angry man. Let us not get there.

I believe GOK has the financial muscle to do that and as private sector will join in and we will then be good to go for lockdown. Private sector has the distribution network while GOK have the data of the people.

If India a nation of 1.3 Billion people has announced 21days lockdown I believe we can also do it with our 50Million population. Sierra Leone defeated Ebola with a lockdown but they made sure the poor folks also got basic ration to sustain them .

Time is of the essence and we need to move fast to avoid finding ourselves playing catch up.

Finally to my fellow Kenyans if you returned in the last two weeks you should be in self quarantine. This is NOT a holiday . Please stay at home. We have already reported adults who simply don’t care.

To our goverment you will NOT walk alone majority have your back, please don’t relent . You have our full support , The Kenyans who ignore the rules please get firm , tough and ruthless.

Folks Corona is here , it’s fight or flight . We cannot afford the latter we must fight and give it a TKO. I believe we can and as always I choose to remain an optimist.

Mohammed Hersi
Mombasa .