President Uhuru Kenyatta on Saturday encouraged tourists to return to Kenya, saying the country was safe and open for business even with coronavirus cases having tripled in the past month.
Kenyatta said the country was ready to receive domestic and foreign visitors, and that he was satisfied with measures taken by the tourism sector to protect travellers from COVID-19.
“I want to take this opportunity to encourage every single Kenyan to take advantage and to travel… You can travel, you can move,” Kenyatta said in a statement issued by his office.
“And now as you know, we have also opened up our skies and flights are coming. We welcome all those who choose to come.”
Kenyatta said visitors should follow precautions around coronavirus, saying everyone needed to play their part in containing the spread of the disease.
“Safety is not really just a government issue. It is an individual choice,” he said.
The number of new cases of the virus in Kenya has surged in recent weeks after a slow start.
Kenya recorded 699 new infections on Saturday, taking the country’s overall tally to 25,837 — roughly three times were it was a month ago. It has recorded 418 deaths from the disease, government figures show.
Restrictions on movement around Nairobi, the capital, and key cities was eased in July after a months-long lockdown.
The international border reopened on August 1 after shutting in March, when the country had just 25 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus.
Tourism is a major earner in Kenya and the border closure and travel restrictions hit operators hard.
Cancellations from key markets began in March before coronavirus had even arrived in Kenya and the tourism ministry estimates the sector has lost $750 million this year — roughly half of the total revenue in 2019.