By Sofia Ali

Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala has appealed for the aviation sector to be supported financially. The CS said that the aviation industry needs to access credit and funds in order to have a working capital that will enable them have a smooth run of their business. Balala says the key fundamental enabler for tourism is the aviation industry.

Speaking in Nairobi, during the launch of the Magical Kenya tourism health and safety protocol report, CS Balala said the aviation industry in Africa is very low and underperforming. “If we support the aviation industry, tourism will grow and improve the transport sector which will hence boost the horticulture industry” said Balala.

CS Balala who was re-appointed as Cabinet Secretary for Tourism & Wildlife by H.E. President Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta, early last year has been on the forefront on calls for the upgrade of Kenyan airports especially Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.

During a press early this year, Balala said Kenya needs a brand-new airport and a Convention Centre that will allow it to hold more international summits in Kenya.

He further urged the Treasury Department to increase budgetary allocation to the sector to further boost its earnings

The government already set aside Sh500 million as part of the monies to be utilized to revive the hotel and tourism sector.

The sector is currently one of the hardest-hit by the COVID-19 outbreak presenting the sector with a major and evolving challenge on both travel supply and demand, particularly in Kenya’s source markets.  The tourism sector has seen the loss of jobs of over 2000 workers.

 The Tourism sector 2019 report revealed that 3000 thousand customers used other airports to access Kenya.

Currently, Kenya has a total of 60 airports which are used both for domestic and international travels.

The move to launch the protocol report was welcomed and endorsed by the world tourism council CEO Gloria Guevara Manzo.

Us ambassador to Kenya Kyle McCarter who was present at the event said Kenya is a safe place to visit. “Covid didn’t hit Kenya as projected and it’s important because we can quickly get back to business” said McCater.

He further urged all stake holders to take the precautions seriously in order to avert the corona pandemic.

The US government has so far contributed 5 billion shillings to the Kenyan government to help in the fight against the corona pandemic.

Balala said Kenya has lost 80 billion shillings so far in tourism revenue, about half of last year’s total, due to the covid-19 pandemic

The sector is one of the leading sources of foreign exchange, earning 163.56 billion shillings in 2019, which had been expected to grow 1% in 2020.

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