#COVID19 – The reality on the ground for the tourism industry


(Posted 30th March 2020)

As predicted has the COVID19 related downturn across the tourism industry in East Africa now started to hit some of the biggest names in the regional tourism industry.
More and more hotel companies, especially those with lodges and beach resorts, but increasingly also city hotels, are announcing their closure as a result of both lack of business as well as concerns about health and safety towards their staff.

Others like the Loisaba Conservancy have used their blog to announce suspension of operations (https://loisaba.com/tourism-and-conservation/) and it is understood that Kenya’s only 5 star rated safari property north of the equator, Segera Retreat, too has halted operations.

The Lewa Conservancy had to cancel their annual Safari Marathon which was due to be held at the end of June and, given the travel restrictions put into place by the Kenyan government, are all other major conservancies equally affected and not likely to admit visitors for the time being.
While organisations like the Northern Rangelands Trust – under which some 39 conservancies fall, have yet to make a formal statement, will movement restrictions placed across Kenya by the government keep local visitors away after tourists have all left the country.
The same no doubt applies also for Ol Pejeta, though there too is no formal statement to that effect available at this time.

With more and more staff from the hospitality, aviation and travel industry being laid off as a result of lack of business, is the Kenyan government now called upon to support the sector and in particular the affected staff, after having milked the proverbial cow for years without reciprocating investments on a like scale for tourism marketing and tourism infrastructure – key roads to major parks and reserves being a point in time.

In Uganda are local hotel operators, as usual, more hush hush about their situation but information is at hand that several city hotels have halted operations as have upcountry lodges – some while requesting relevant information from them threatening a legal case should their hotel be named.

In Rwanda, as a full lockdown is in place now with – as of the time of posting this article 70 confirmed cases of COVID19 – are equally lodges and tented camps as well as most hotels relying on tourists near the main national parks of Volcanoes and Nyungwe empty and closures unfolding.

The same scenario applies to Tanzania, where foreign tourists have departed while no new arrivals are possible now without first undergoing quarantine.

ATCNews will continue to support the sector across the region with as much publicity and visibility as possible and invites stakeholders to send in their positive stories for publication, as regularly done for Porini Camps, Serena Hotels, Baobab Resorts and a few others. Now is the time to plan and prepare for the time after the outbreak has been brought under control, when the industry – even in a very different shape – will kickstart operations again and get ready to once more offer visitors from overseas that holiday of a lifetime.

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