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Kenyan travel agents struggle with impact of lockdown on travel industry

The pandemic has decimated the travel industry in Kenya with insurmountable severity

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  • Travel is a frangible industry often influenced by unpredictable factors like COVID-19 pandemic
  • All travel agents have been confronted with huge amounts of refund requests
  • Lockdowns, border closures and travel restrictions have left travel agents reeling from unspeakable financial losses

One year after the break out of coronavirus, the pandemic has decimated the travel industry in Kenya with insurmountable severity. Travel is a frangible industry often influenced by unpredictable factors like the current COVID-19 pandemic.

All travel agents have been confronted with huge amounts of refund requests for trips that had to be cancelled as a result of lockdowns, border closures and travel restrictions; activities that have left travel agents reeling from unspeakable financial losses. The whole travel industry continues to face financial challenges due to the ongoing pandemic, as the level of sales remains anecdotal compared to the years before.

Beginning January this year, a number of travel agencies in Kenya anecdotally reported that sales and bookings had been rising especially on days leading to the Easter holidays. However, the government’s new Covid-19 restrictions announced on March 26th, including suspension of domestic air services, an extended nightly curfew and a lockdown of five counties dealt a major blow to the industry.

As the travel agency community, we reacted with incomprehension. We were banking on the Easter bookings to improve our cash flows. The fact that this year, as last year, the Easter season was cancelled, meant heavy losses for us. The new restrictions came into force despite the fact that travel agents were 100% compliant with the Covid-19 safe travel protocols.

Much has changed since the pandemic started, but travel agents remain an essential part of the tourism value chain, now more than ever! Travel agents help to preserve the travel and tourism ecosystem by ensuring the delicate balance between inbound and outbound passenger movements is maintained. Without the efforts of travel agents to support international travel, Kenya’s inbound tourism numbers will be significantly at risk.

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