The long wait for pending bills could finally end after Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala assured travel agents that he was keenly following up on the refund of pending bills amounting to over Kes. 400 million.
Speaking at a webinar organised by the Kenya Tourism Federation on May 12, 2020, Mr. Balala assured travel agents that he is following up on the matter and hopes that the pending bills will be reimbursed in June.
Travel agents have fervently pursued the refund of the Kes 434 million owed by government as it is the crucial injection needed to boost businesses already failing due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We have been working closely with government ministries to ensure that these funds are remitted to agents in good time to allow the sustainability of our businesses during this COVID-19 period where the travel industry has ground to a stop. Currently travel agents are not operating as no travel is taking place. The only business we are handling right now is refunding our clients and this has led to closure of many agencies who are operating on negative right now” KATA Chairman Mr. Mohammed Wanyoike said in a previous interview.
He stated that he is hopeful that by the end of the first half of the year, travel agents will have received their refunds and will be able to work towards restoring their businesses post pandemic.
Other matters discussed during the webinar included the travellers changed habits post COVID-19. Mr. Balala noted that travellers would only be comfortable once a vaccine to contain the virus is found. He urged the industry to focus on attracting travellers especially the youth by putting special emphasis on their health, safety, price and providing a worthwhile experience.
Even as travel opens up eventually, he said, proper precaution and restrictions that has been put in place by the government have to be enforced in order to avoid the spread of the highly contagious disease.
Kenya Tourism Board CEO Ms. Betty Radier who was a panellist during the forum urged industry players to be COVID-19 ready in order to accommodate the needs of the traveller.
The webinar was hosted by KTF CEO Ms Susan Ongalo, moderated by KTF Chairman Mr. Mohammed Hersi. Mr Alex Avedi. The CEO Safarilink Aviation was a panellist at the forum.