Quarantine rules dampen international travel return

The retention of quarantine requirements for passengers has dampened the return of international travel even as the world moves closer to managing the COVID-19 pandemic. According to a new survey by the Ministry of Tourism in collaboration with the Kenya Association of Travel Agents (KATA), Kenyans have highlighted quarantine rules as their greatest concern as they seek to resume travel. 76 per cent of respondents in the survey said they were extremely concerned with being quarantined at their destinations while 57 per cent feared being quarantined upon return home. Quarantine as a travel concern trounced the fear of contracting COVID-19 at 61 per cent ahead of increased logistics at destinations and physical discomfort at 52 per cent and 44 per cent respectively. Nevertheless, Kenyans expressed their willingness and readiness to start travelling again against headwinds caused by the evolving pandemic. 64 per cent of respondents indicated they were ready to travel again domestically while the demand for regional and international travel was more subdued with only 34 and 25 per cent of respondents expressing readiness to travel to the destinations. Further, a majority 47 per cent indicated their choice of travel to tourist attractions ahead of travel to accommodation facilities at 44 per cent, tourist activities at 38 per cent and the use of ground transport at 33 per cent. The demand for business travel however appears subdued with a bulk 80 per cent of respondents estimating 50 to 75 of their business trips will be replaced by online meetings moving forward. About three per cent of the respondents said all their prior business trips are likely to be swallowed up by the online solution. Despite the concerns on travel, the Ministry of Tourism has backed Kenya to remain a key travel destination this year supported by travel health and safety protocols anchoring travel in the ‘new normal’. “Kenya was awarded the Safer Tourism Seal (STS) that builds on established certifications through evaluations and endorsements. The seal provides additional assurances about the industry,” noted the survey. Additionally, Kenya has soften arrival protocols having expanded its list of countries form which arrivals are not subjected to quarantine to more than 130 countries in August last year. In contrast, countries such Australia have retained mandatory quarantine rules for all arrivals as they seek to stamp out imported COVID-19 infections.

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