Virus fears cost travel industry billions

March 6, 2020 / Comments (0)


Kenya’s travel industry says its earnings have dropped by Sh3 billion or six percent of last year’s revenue as holidaymakers continue to cancel their plans over coronavirus fears.

Kenya Association of Travel Agents chairman Mohammed Wanyoike said if the hotel and flight cancellations persist, the loss could hit 10 per cent of last year’s revenue of Sh51 billion by end of the month.

“We have already quantified that cancellation of travels in February has resulted in a six per cent decline in revenues,” he said.

“The majority of the cancellations comes from the Asian countries that have been hugely affected”.

On Tuesday, Kenya’s Coronavirus National Emergency Response Committee halted flights from Italy’s northern cities of Verona and Milan, which have direct flights to Mombasa.

“This part of Italy is currently experiencing coronavirus incidents, which could affect the safety of Kenyans,” the team said in a statement.

The committee has also banned flights between Kenya and Iran.

A global update shows that the virus has so far affected 90,893 people and killed 3,110 in more than 77 countries.

Mr Wanyoike said the industry expects its losses to rise up to the end of the first quarter when the virus is expected to thaw. He reckoned the decline in bookings would hit their operations, “but we don’t foresee redundancies as things are expected to improve in the second quarter of 2020.”

“To mitigate the problem, we are encouraging our members to be alert and to be on top of the game in terms of knowing where the numbers are going.

“Some of the consideration that may happen towards the end of this quarter is if you find your labour operating on 50 per cent capacity we might consider asking them to take normal leave and then they resume when the business is back to normal,” he said.


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