President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya has unveiled a comprehensive package to rescue the country’s ailing tourism sector in the wake of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
In an address to the nation, the Head of state announced a string of measures to bail out businesses of which tourism prominently featured being one of the country’s major economy driver.
A whooping 53.7 billion shillings (US$500 million) economic stimulus package was announced by the president to cushion citizens from the financial stress occasioned by the pandemic.
The President stated that, the injection of the money into the economy would stimulate growth and cushion families and companies.
“To combat the effects of this downturn, my administration has had to take additional measures,” President Kenyatta said.
Featuring in the President’s sixth area of the stimulus program, the tourism sector was allocated Ksh6 billion shillings (US$56 Million) to assuage their plight as the industry suffered the most due to the restricted movements, and termination of international flights.
A total of Sh2 billion will be set aside to support renovation of facilities and the restructuring of business operations by stakeholders in the industry. This will be in the form of soft loans to be administered by the Tourism Finance Corporation (TFC) to the establishments.
’To jumpstart this important sector, and protect its players from heavy financial losses, my Administration will provide soft loans to hotels and related establishments through the Tourism Finance Corporation (TFC), and A total of Ksh 2 Billion will be set aside to support renovation of facilities and the restructuring of business operations by actors in this industry’’ Prez Kenyatta said.
Click to watch the video clip
Commenting on the announcement, the chairman of the Kenya Tourism Federation Mohammed Hersi said the tourism fraternity was grateful to the president for acting swiftly to bail out the sector.
‘’we want to thank H.E The President and Tourism Minister for acting on our request that was made early in the day when Covid19 struck. We are happy that conservation is also receiving attention through the support of rangers who look after the animals in conservancies’’ Mr Hersi said.
‘’We are also happy that more funds have been allocated to Kenya Tourism Board for recovery . It is our wish to see more funds as soft loans for all players in the industry and not just the hotel segment. What has been allocated should be fast tracked when borrowers approach the funds team. We now need to finalize the protocols to open up ‘’ he concluded.
Sh1 billion will be dedicated to 5,500 community scouts under the Kenya Wildlife Service while 160 community conservancies will enjoy a support of Sh1 billion to support their activities.
Funding will also be set aside to support the operations of Utali College to guarantee the steady supply of well-trained hospitality professionals.
Tourism is Kenya’s second-largest source of foreign exchange revenue following agriculture. It is estimated that up to 21% of Kenya’s national income comes from tourism.