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Kenya tourism sector loses about 800 mln USD due to COVID-19 pandemic

Kenya's tourism sector has so far incurred 85 billion Kenyan shillings (about 800 million U.S. dollars) in losses due to the effects of the global COVID-19 pandemic, a senior government official said on Monday.

Najib Balala, Cabinet Secretary of Kenya's Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife, told a media briefing in Nairobi that the entire tourism industry is out of business and there have been major job losses.

"We have lost about 50 percent of the 1.6 billion dollars tourism revenues," Balala said during the launch of the National Tourism Crisis Steering Committee Report that will guide the recovery of the tourism industry.

The study report recommends innovative ways to re-open and sustain the industry in the post-COVID-19 era. Tourism is among the leading foreign exchange earners for Kenya.

Balala added that between July and December, the East African nation will only recover less than 30 percent of tourism sector revenues.

He said that the ministry will only focus on domestic tourism for the remainder of 2020 as international travel restrictions are expected to be in place in order to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Balala observed that tourism is a key sector of Kenya's economy and this is evident from the sustained growth the sector has experienced since 2015, culminating into about 2.05 million tourist arrivals in 2019.

He noted that the industry contributes immensely to national development through employment creation, environmental conservation and management as well as fostering closer ties among people. 

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