Covid-19 has surely dealt a heavy blow to some of us who have, for a long time, been eating, drinking, breathing and sleeping Tourism. Without a warning, it came as a surprise package to the governments and its populace.
One may argue, and it’s indeed true to some extent, that many authorities had at least reasonable grace period pre-covid, to put measures in to pace and counter the grave effects we are currently wallowing in. While this argument may be true, it’s clear, at least from the face of it, that more than 90% of governments have been unable to effectively curb this pandemic, owing to its iffy nature. Therefore at this moment in time, I would be equivocal in my disapproval of how the Kenyan government has handled the matter thus far.
It’s without a doubt that Water Tourism is a key component of the tourism business the world over, and Kenya has not been a exception; Holiday makers from all parts of our beautiful country have been trooping to the Kenyan coast every single year, something that has informally become a tradition well cast in our culture. I have had the privilege of teaching in various tourism schools across the republic of Kenya, and to intentionally be biased, allow me to single out Koiyaki Guiding School and WE College for the splendid job they have been doing to raise the academic standards in the tourism industry with their competency-based approach to training. Well, our numerous academic trips would be incomplete without dropping by the Indian ocean or to some of the many lakes within the Great Rift Valley. My long time colleagues, now buddies, Michael Kahiga and Peterson Kariuki have, for years, been instrumental in inculcating ideal values in the youngsters joining the industry, with their immeasurable experiences and knowledge. May they keep doing what they do best!
Now, back to Nautical tourism; that tourism and travel is largely a social system is an obvious assertion and with the Covid-19 pandemic here with us, things have been made complex in the country particularly for counties that rely on this form of tourism. The activities that have been immensely popular with Kenyans, mostly those from the inland, and which make them visit the coast, include swimming, boat riding snorkeling, water rafting, Canoeing, Kayaking etc. All there bring people close together, thereby sharing pools of water. Water in believed to be an accelerating medium as far as the spread of covid-19 is concerned and an activity like swimming has been feared to be a very suicidal affair at this time.
Since the phased reopening of the economy on July 7 by the head of state, HE Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta, whereas other Kenyan destinations have fairly tried to get back on their feet, the coastal counties have not managed to attract their perennial visitors despite seemingly good preparations and several appeals and assurances to domestic tourists. This is something we’ll have to wait and see how it unfolds with time.
Be as it may, I believe the fears and effects are only temporary as things have started getting better with a number of celebrities (Betty Kyalo, Akothee and the former Prime Minister, Raila Odinga) all visiting the coast in the last few weeks; this is a clear demonstration that all it takes is personal responsibility.
As I conclude, one fact shall remain: Kenya is and shall perpetually be the destination to beat in the whole world of Tourism and Hospitality!