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Tourism agency taps banks to pay Sh2bn relief cash

Monday June 08 2020
ORUMOI

Tourism Finance Corporation Managing Director Jonah Orumoi at a past event. PHOTO| SALATON NJAU | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By JAMES KARIUKI

The Tourism Finance Corporation (TFC) has initiated talks with local banks to ensure the Sh2 billion tourism stimulus package reaches hotel operators.

Managing director Jonah Orumoi said the talks were aimed at enabling hotels, tour operators and airlines support local tourism access the funds to refurbish establishments and meet operational costs as they move towards full recovery.

RECOVER LOANS

"We want to avoid a scenario where banks use the money disbursed by government to recover their loans, denying the tourism stakeholder the much-needed funds," he said.

Speaking in Nairobi, Mr Orumoi said the board was reviewing the criteria for disbursing the stimulus cash, which will include scrutiny of an establishment’s contribution to tourism development levy, payment of taxes as well as the number of employees.

He said each pact will see TFC, banks and an individual lender agree on a restructuring package before the money is released to them.

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"We want to benefit tourism businesses that benefit the highest number of Kenyans and the criteria regulations and the application forms will be posted on our website (tourismfinance.go.ke) within the next two weeks," he said.

INCENTIVISE TOURISM

The stimulus cash will be used to renovate the facilities in line with Covid-19 laid-down regulations that advocates spacing out sitting areas, installation of automated doors and re-training of staff on procedures of observing high standards of hygiene.

At the same time, the TFC urged devolved units to incentivise tourism facilities within their counties as a way of keeping them open.

"The national government has provided a Sh2 billion package while county government can chip in by reducing land rates, licence fees as well as other incentives that help reduce operating costs for tourism operators.

The agency said it had also received an extra Sh2 billion for meeting payroll and other operational costs to hotel operators.

JOBS AT RISK

Nearly all tourism businesses have reported a drastic reduction of earnings solely blamed on Covid-19 pandemic that saw airports closed and facilities closed down to stem new Covid-19 infections.

Tourism sector’s 1.6 million jobs are at risk of being lost with 2020 earnings expected to fall flat against last year’s Sh163 billion.

Tour vans and aircraft remain in parking bays and staff sent home on half salary while some employers have announced indefinite closures.

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