13-04-2021 by Freddie del Curatolo
Italy may reopen on June to international tourism and to all countries where it is currently forbidden to travel for pleasure, including Kenya. However, a vaccine passport may be required in order to travel and, above all, return to the country without having to observe the quarantine regime.
This is what transpires from the working tables of the European Union, which in these days is defining common strategies for the reopening of tourism on the continent and outside the Schengen area.
The Italian Government, for its part, is already working to make the "Green Pass" operational, the adoption of which the EU has already given the green light. This is a sort of pass that will allow citizens to travel easily abroad. A fundamental solution to accelerate the restart and that, if it is true that it is designed primarily to introduce foreign travellers to Italy, will still give anyone the right to travel for tourism anywhere in the world, under agreements that will be concluded with all countries that are interested in reopening and relaunching the sector. "Last year we didn't know what we were up against," Italian Tourism Minister Massimo Garavaglia said recently, "this time we have the experience and a vaccination plan that is going ahead. We are working on the Green Pass, which includes the vaccine as a condition, or having had the Covid and a negative tampon. It is non-discriminatory and already exists in Sardinia. It's a model that is already gaining ground, because for example there are already many flights that proceed in this way".
The EU Commissioner in charge of vaccine safety, Thierry Breton, also announced the implementation of the vaccine passport by 15 June next, for the safe reopening of borders and all activities. Breton reiterated that it will be a "harmonised" document, therefore the same for all EU countries and "covered by the general regulation of personal data". The document should contain a QR code with the type of vaccine received, but it will not be compulsory to move. Another prospect is to proceed with antigenic swabs and rapid tests to be carried out at airports or, according to precise indications, before departure.
It must be said that all this will not be enough to see an immediate return of so-called mass tourism, or of "package holidays" in Kenya.
Despite expectations for the summer, the rest of the year will probably be characterised by so-called "proximity tourism", i.e. the movement of travellers towards destinations not far from their residence and particularly within the national territory, as confirmed by searches on Google and Booking and information found on specialised holiday booking sites.
On the other hand, Italy itself, in order to accelerate the recovery of the economy (before the pandemic, tourism represented 13% of the national GDP), will have no interest in promoting the departure of our compatriots:
The trend being promoted is that of the so-called 'Staycation' (an American neologism that is the union of 'stay' and 'holiday', i.e. short holiday periods as close to home as possible, even without an overnight stay.
Kenya's strategy to make holidays in its splendid locations safe will also be important. Trade associations have long asked the Ministry of Tourism to discuss various issues, including vaccinations. The categories already vaccinated and prioritised should, for example, be added to the staff of hotels, restaurants and other tourism-related activities, such as safari guides.
Other solutions, as reiterated by the President of the Kenya Tourist Federation, Mohammed Hersi, involve competing with other destinations that are already fully organised to leave in the coming months.
This is the case, for example, of the Dominican Republic, which has promoted free health care for tourists in order to entice them to return. All international visitors, arriving by plane and staying in a hotel, can enjoy a free medical coverage plan that covers all types of emergencies, including a possible COVID-19 infection. In addition, the tourism model has been rethought to become more sustainable, with the signing of important agreements to protect the environment, a plan to rehabilitate the island's beaches and thanks to the digitalisation of services and licences and a digital information system.
For now, Kenya has not yet moved forward with an information campaign on how it will manage post-vaccine tourism. This is compounded by the fact that Nairobi and other counties are grappling with the unexpected third wave and a new health emergency that it is hoped the new lockdowns and extended curfew will contain.
But it would also require a faster and more present vaccination plan, otherwise there is a risk of being left far behind and having to make do with niche tourism made up of safari and Africa enthusiasts and "repeaters", as well as local tourists who apply the logic of "staycation" at home.
But with them alone, as we have already seen, we cannot make a living and the crisis in the sector could continue with even more devastating effects.
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