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Tour operators urged to adopt tech solutions to stay afloat

Kenya has shown an impressive performance in the tourism sector since 2015. The country's tourism arrivals grew by 3.9% from 2.02 million tourists in 2018 to 2.05 million tourists in 2019 (GoK, 2019) after a 37.33% from 1.47 million in 2017. Tourism in Kenya. Kenya recorded a total of 2 million tourists in 2019, ranking 63rd in the world in absolute terms. The Kenyan travel and tourism industry represented 8% of total GDP in 2019, with this economic activity supporting nearly 1.6 million jobs.

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By Isaac Oganga

Tour operators in Kenya have been urged to embed Inclusivity, sustainability, and resilience in their business models to ensure that the sector continues to be a driver of economic and social progress.

Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) Chief Executive Officer Dr. Betty Radier says that the current travel trends and scenarios require that tour operators change their model of operation from travel coordinators to experienced designers to cater to the current traveler.

“The new traveler is discerning and very demanding, especially because they can see everything online. They choose their next travel destinations based on the offerings available which then requires us to have a competitive edge against other destinations. Tour operators need to move from just being coordinators to now also selling opportunities and experiences to attract the interest of the traveler. Investment in the human resource will be important for us to achieve this goal” Said Dr Radier

She added that the Industry players should embrace sustainability and also play a role in building the resilience of the sector to ensure that it is able to withstand crises like the Covid-19 pandemic.

The KTB CEO made the remarks during a stakeholder consultative forum organized by the Kenya Association of Tour Operators (KATO) to discuss the status of Tourism recovery and key activities going forward as well as insurable risks in tourism and available solutions.

Kenya Association of Tour Operators (KATO) CEO Fred Kaigua says that partnerships between the private sector and government have been key in the recovery journey of tourism businesses in Kenya noting that tour operators are already experiencing an average 49 percent improvement in their businesses.

“The collaborations we have had with the Kenya Tourist Board (KTB) and other government agencies are already bearing fruit and the sector is looking up. Currently, we have an average improvement of 49 percent with most operators benefiting from this.

That said, we still have others who are yet to get to this level and the goal is to have all players move forward together. We are experiencing demand for travel which is promising. Travelers who had postponed travel are now rebooking which is a positive for operators” Said Kaigua

The Kenya Tourism Federation (KTF) Chairman, Fred Odek lauded the collaboration between government and the private sector at a time when the pandemic had affected business. He assured that the private sector would continue to play its role in bringing in visitors and selling compelling packages. He added that the destination was open for business and that Kenya should be on their bucket list destination for all travelers.

The Kenya Association of Tour Operators (KATO) is one of Kenya’s leading tourism trade associations representing the interests of over 300 tour operators in Kenya. Their membership comprises both large and small operators. Some of their roles are to maintain the highest possible standards of service and integrity and to create business opportunities for members.

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