With Covid19 vaccination we can salvage Kenyas tourism peak safari season.

Tourism staff safari guides lining up to receive the vaccine in Nairobi. Video Courtesy : Reuters

In our raft of requests to our goverment we made a special appeal for Tourism players to be given a vaccine allocation . Kenya Tourism Federation team truly worked round the clock to knock on all doors and we made all the telephone calls we needed to make.

Glad that through Ministry of Tourism And Wildlife – Kenya our CS Najib Balala , The Ministry of Health, CS. Mutahi Kagwe we were given 50,000 vaccines with first batch of 5000 vaccines being released. I must thank Jimi Kariuki Chairman KTB and MD Sarova Hotels , Fred Kaigua CEO KATO, Mike Macharia CEO KAHC, Carole Kariuki CEO Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) for the push and lobbying. Thanks to Dr Joseph Kinyua Office Of The President for hearing us out.

Let me explain why Tourism players more so the front liners had to get the jab.

  1. We came to realise that hotel workers esp in Kitchen , Restaurant staff and Room stewards all handle wet items that have been used by guests. This exposure essentially makes them front line workers as well.

While in hospital nurses and support staff including the cleaners all have PPEs hotels staff dont wear such lest you turn your hotel to look like a hospital. You have seen even airlines staff don full PPEs.

  1. Tourism business is about opening the economy. International tourism is also helping our economy to get that much needed forex inflow. Keep in mind that that we are virtually net importer from Oil & Gas to many essential items medicines etc. Without a good inflow of forex our shilling will never leave the HDU or even worse ICU.

Most of our key source markets like USA , Germany, UK et al are rolling out the vaccine in a big way . USA have already vaccinated 262 million with a goal of 300 million by end June 2021. Let’s give it to President Joe Biden , in under 100 days he has brought Covid19 under control in the US.

USA is a leading tourist source market for Kenya more so the high yield tourist who is more focused on safari and high end safari lodges and camps.

Many leading agents are now insisting that the staff who will handle their guests should show proof that they have been vaccinated and this is the one major reason why driver guides were also in the front line to get the jab.

  1. Some visitors are even insisting to carry out a rapid anti gen test to establish status of the staff who will be handling them . Well they are equally ready to take the test as well for the comfort of the staff . While this is extreme, it is part of the new normal. When you get infected its personal, you struggle alone hence everyone has a right to protect themselves.

I must commend our goverment for getting close to one million of us to get the vaccine , could they have done more ? Of course yes but again reality is that the vaccines itself is in limited supply globally. Our key source of the Astra Zeneca vaccine India is currently fighting for it’s own life with a ruthless 2nd wave. We hope and pray that we get more vaccines delivered.

The move to help get tourism players to get the vaccine was a master stroke move which even Reuters could not miss to notice hence please join me to saviour the moment.

We as Tourism players are confident that we are in a great position to salvage the peak Safari season of July to October .

In life you have a choice , to see the glass half full or half empty. Well I choose the latter , my glass is half full and as Tourism recovers I shall have a full glass.

As always I choose to remain an optimist

Mohammed Hersi
Kenya Tourism Federation.

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