Coronavirus scare may affect tourism: Governor Kinyanjui

Wednesday March 18 2020
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Nakuru Governor Lee Kinyanjui. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By FRANCIS MUREITHI

Nakuru’s tourism industry and trade could be affected by 'false' information about coronavirus, Governor Lee Kinyanjui has warned.

He cautioned against sensational reporting on the virus at a time when his government is working to push the economy through tourism and boost revenues.

Mr Kinyanjui said any wrong information about the coronavirus, now renamed Covid-19, could affect the hospitality industry.

HUGE JOB CUTS

“Any slight misinformation of the coronavirus in Nakuru could eat into hospitality revenues with foreign customers cancelling their reservations and this would translate to huge job cuts across the value chain,” said Mr Kinyanjui.

Speaking to the Nation after it was reported by a section of the media that a Chinese national living in Nakuru had quarantined himself, Mr Kinyanjui said that was a procedural measure as the Chinese national had recently travelled from China where the disease is prevalent.

“There is no confirmed [coronavirus] case in Nakuru. These kind of unverified reports could lead to massive cancellations for room reservations and I urge local media to exercise responsible journalism,” said Mr Kinyanjui.

WRONG INFORMATION

The county boss said that with the unregulated social media, any wrong information could go viral and its economic impact could be far reaching to Nakuru residents.

“The local hotel industry could suffer massive impacts in the form of hotel reservation cancellations due to unverified information,” said Governor Kinyanjui on Wednesday.

However, some of the industry players said they were concerned by the alarmist report and were keeping a close tab on the virus updates.

“We are yet to receive cancellations from our overseas customers. However, the unconfirmed [coronavirus] case reported in the media was a big concern to industry players,” said a manager at one of the tourist hotels in Lake Nakuru National Park.

“Our February and March bookings from international clients is still intact although we were shocked by reports of a Chinese national who quarantined himself after arriving in to the country from China,” said a manager at a leading hotel in Nakuru Town.

Nakuru County government has instituted stop –gap measures in case there is any report of the virus.

TRAINING STAFF

“We are concerned and my government has taken measures by training 200 medical staff and purchased equipment to deal with any confirmed case,” said Mr Kinyanjui.

The deadly coronavirus has killed over 2,000 people mostly in the mainland China with over 75,000 confirmed cases worldwide.

Mr Kinyanjui said his government has put in place a help desk to give information about the deadly virus to Nakuru residents.

Of the thousands of foreign tourists who visit Lake Nakuru National Park and other tourists sites every year, Chinese tourists account for the majority followed by those from Britain and the US.

Nakuru has major projects which are being undertaken by Chinese companies.

"We hope this outbreak does not affect our thriving hospitality industry and other development agenda lined up this year," said Mr Kinyanjui.